Duke University Hospital Testing Apple Health Technology

Sep 23, 2014

A look at some of the Apple Health apps that are part of the HealthKit bundle.
Credit Apple.com

Duke University Hospital is testing a new Apple product called HealthKit. The feature was announced as part of Apple's new operating system last week.

It allows users to share personal health data, like blood pressure or workout times, between apps. The trial with Duke University is an attempt to connect that personal health data with the hospital's records system.

“So, for example: If your physician asks you to check your blood pressure regularly at home because you have high blood pressure, it would give you a way to check that, save it to your phone, and send that data directly to your doctor,” said Ricky Bloomfield is the Director of Mobile Technology Strategy for Duke University Hospital. “You'll be able to do that without even thinking about it.”

The current trial involves patients who Bloomfield says might benefit from the apps, particularly in oncology and heart disease. These patients, according to Bloomfield, could benefit from having more accurate health data reported when they’re away from the doctor’s office.

“When you think about it, patients spend far more time at home then they do in the clinic or hospital,” said Bloomfield. “Yet those are the times we collect the vast majority of vital information from them. So it's important we know how they’re doing at home as well as during their routine checkups.”

The trial is looking at functionality as well as security, and is expected to run for several months. With recent high-profile incidents raising questions about Apple’s control over the data it collects, the company is being particularly careful about how it moves forward with medical records.

“If you decide you don't want to share that data anymore, you can go in there and turn it off and no more data will be shared,” said Bloomfield. “So it gives the patient control over that whole process.”