Thanks To Apple, Healthcare Takes Further Steps Toward Digital


What if you could monitor your health through data found on your smartphone?

We’ve seen this made possible through the invention of wearables and fitness apps, created by companies like Samsung, Fitbit, and Apple.

Samsung geared its new Galaxy phones to be patient centered, designing a health app and wearable device that provide users with data surrounding their health, fitness goals, blood pressure, stress levels and sleeping patterns. This app was designed in line with the wellness trend.

Fitbit is another big player in the industry that has gained popularity by focusing on providing customers the ability to track fitness activity using wireless, wearable technology, in hopes to make users more fitness focused, and to “transform people’s lives.”

Apple has shown interest in wearables, with the creation of the Apple Watch. This tool centers around tracking fitness activity during exercise. Heart rate, calories burned, steps walked and other health data is revealed through this wearable.

As we have discussed on Digital Diary, wearables are making a huge impact on the healthcare industry.

“Wearable technology will be key to the digital transformation of healthcare. With advantages for patients, doctors, payers and more, wearables are helping to evolve a new healthcare delivery system. These devices are opening up the possibility of alternative methods of patient interaction, the collection of data and ultimately, change the way we deliver treatment.” Digital Diary reports.

Now, in recent news, Apple is making bigger strides in the digital health industry, changing the way mobile healthcare is carried out.

A patent was recently granted to Apple by the USPTO, that reveals future plans to make the iPhone capable of collecting user’s health data through sensors on the mobile device.

The sensors will be able to detect body pressure index, blood hydration, body fat content, oxygen saturation, pulse rate and more.

“The electronic device uses one or more of the camera and the proximity sensor to emit light into a body part of a user touching a surface of the electronic device and one or more of the camera, the ambient light sensor, and the proximity sensor to receive at least part of the emitted light reflected by the body part of the user.” According to the patent.

With any new technology comes benefits and challenges for all stakeholders involved.

By integrating health tools into mobile devices, the way patients view data will change and this will impact all the major players in the healthcare sector.

Patients Hold The Power

Digital health can create personalized healthcare landscapes, putting the patient in charge of their own, or a family member’s health outcomes.

By gathering real time data, on-the-go patients can monitor and access information conveniently.

“Technology can also help people make sense of their conditions, sort through their treatment options, and make wise decisions about their care. Decision aids, including interactive tools and Web-based educational resources, have been shown to both increase patients’ knowledge about their care and improve their satisfaction.” Commonwealthfund reports.

Providers Offer Better Care

Digital health tools are giving providers a chance to better understand their patients, and to be connected to data at all times by increasing communication and creating a personalized, engaging patient experience.

“With healthcare communication technology on the rise, improved digital communication options result in higher satisfaction rates and more informed patients and providers.” Samsung reports.

Providers are also able to provide targeted, smarter care to patients through digital health, because a patient is monitored more precisely, giving providers valuable data to further carry out the diagnosis.

Payers Save Money

Incorporating digital trends into the healthcare industry enables payers to save costs once changes are made to operating models.

“The exact amount would vary from payor to payor, given the broad dispersion in individual carriers’ per-member administrative spending. We estimate that, on average, payors would save roughly 10% to 15% of their SG&A costs—$15 billion to $25 billion industry-wide.” McKinsey reports. 

Digital tools such as automation increase efficiency among workflows, and allows for more collaboration among providers and stakeholders because of the tools that can easily share data among both parties.

Preventative digital tools also allow patients to see issues before they become serious, which decreases hospital visits, using expensive tests or screenings, which benefits the payers.

Regulators Find Trends

Regulators benefit from digital health tools because they can use the data presented in order to predict future trends in the healthcare industry, therefore, can format regulations depending on these trends.

Pharma Companies Must Keep Up

Pharmaceutical companies must adapt to the digital changes that are affecting the healthcare industry in order to stay up to date with patient trends and to keep up with competitors that are moving into the healthcare market, such as Apple.

The benefits that pharma companies see involve increased patient engagement. Because digital tools open lines of communication, online communities are formed that assist these companies in relaying information about drug safety.

“In response, pharma companies will have to build the capabilities to anticipate or react rapidly to these new sources of evidence, and remain the main source of authority on the performance of their products.”McKinsey reports.

Digital Health Start Ups

The development of digital transformation is happening so rapidly in the healthcare industry, it is opening new opportunities for digital start ups to emerge.

New technology is saving lives and assisting physicians, enabling them to perform their jobs in an effective way.

With healthcare start-ups constantly creating new, innovative features that are accessible and effective, the healthcare market has the potential to completely transform.

in a recent Digital Diary post, we discussed how digital startups are the future of healthcare. Learn more about the recent health start-ups here.

The Security Challenges Facing Digital Health

Security Risks

Digitizing the health care industry has the potential to put patients’ sensitive data in a vulnerable position, at risk of data breaches, caused by the rise of malware attacks.

“Medical devices, like other computer systems, can be vulnerable to security breaches, potentially impacting the safety and effectiveness of the device. This vulnerability increases as medical devices are increasingly connected to the Internet, hospital networks, and to other medical devices.” The FDA Reports.

The FDA recognizes the cyber threat that providers, patients, and facilities face while migrating toward digitally centered tools and addresses these concerns in their recently published guideline, “Content of Premarket Submissions for Management of Cyber security in Medical Devices” that manufacturers should follow while creating digital health tools.

Taken right from Lexology, the points presented are clear and informative.

  • Identify assets, threats, and vulnerabilities, and assess their impact on device functionality and end users/patients;
  • Assess the likelihood of a threat and of a vulnerability being exploited ‒ this can be achieved by using cyber security vulnerability assessments tools or similar scoring systems;
  • Determine risk levels and suitable mitigation strategies;
  • Assess residual risk against an appropriate risk acceptance criteria;
  • Limit device access to trusted users through the use of authentication programs, timeouts, layered authorization privileges (eg. caregiver, system administrator) and lockouts; and
  • Restrict software of firmware updates to authenticated code and ensure that the data can be securely transferred to and from the medical device (eg. via encryption).

“Therefore, data must not only be secure where it is stored, it must be protected as it travels across the ecosystem. Companies participating in the ecosystem must all play a role in ensuring their technology is secure and that sensitive data is protected—wherever it may go.” Accenture reports. 

Patient Trust

Patients can’t help but ask if their health data is secure on digital devices since the risk of malware attacks is increasing.

Recently, in the UK, 16 hospitals were taken down by a ransomware attack, a version of Wanna Decryptor, affecting secure data by freezing systems. This resulted in canceling appointments, erasing medical records of patients, as well as shutting some departments down entirely.

Chaos erupted from a simple ransomware attack, breaching secured data and betraying the consumer’s trust. For this reason alone, The digital health market will face a challenge to gain trust from patients, in order for them to use devices such as wearables.

As a provider, in order to gain a patient’s trust, it is important to advise them about the regulations created by the FDA that are being followed while inputting their data into digital systems.

What Is Next In Digital Health?

Experts say we are approaching a digital health revolution, as technology becomes more advanced and new tools emerge in the healthcare market.

Digital health tools put the power in the patient’s hands, enabling them to be in charge of their health progress, data, and prevention. This creates a new conversation among players in the industry and shifts priorities for providers towards customer-centric care.

“Healthcare organizations will be able to design a service around spoken and unspoken needs, because human centered design has problem-solving ability at its core. Smart technology is always watching and learning with every interaction. Through observation, systems will develop a keener understanding of what people want and need. For consumers, it makes self-care easier. Digital therapeutics is a good example. The technology understands a person’s unique condition or disease and can customize interactions based on behavioral economics principles to provide nudges to take medications, schedule follow-up visits or modify diet.”

The new Apple patent is one example of how major enterprises are focusing on integrating healthcare data into mobile devices.

The future of digital health is only going to advance, as healthcare startups begin to emerge and receive funding to focus on data centered projects that target patients.

Here are a few examples of technology that we are keeping an eye on:


We’ve talked about how Apple has received a patent that enables the iPhone to have unique sensors that track and store data.

By receiving another series of patents, Apple is working toward making “Airpods” using wireless earpods that configure with biometric sensors in order to take biometric measurements, such as a user’s heart rate or oxygen levels.

“The patent filings show that the earbud will sit close to the tragus (the fleshy part of the ear that partially covers the ear canal) – as PPG sensors need to be in direct contact with the skin to be most effective”

On-Skin Applications

The most recent wearable developments include devices that are barely felt on the skin, and lay on the skin of the forefinger using nano-mesh

“On-skin applications are one of the most accurate ways to record vitals, yet many existing wearables applied directly to the skin are typically made with ultrathin films and rubber sheets, meaning they lack breathability. Dermatological tests show these products can’t be worn comfortably for longer than a week because they prevent sweating and block airflow, causing irritation and inflammation.”


The Millennium Alliance is pleased to announce that application for our bi-annual Digital Healthcare Transformation Assembly is now open! Seats are reserved for the C-Level executives leading the digital healthcare revolution to come together on December 5-6, 2017.

With Apple gaining new, innovative patents, it is clear that major enterprises are moving toward creating new, digital tools in the healthcare industry. These tools are evolving constantly, changing with as technology grows. The healthcare landscape is moving toward digital, affecting all stakeholders such as payers, providers, and pharma involved.

Digital healthcare startups are making a stride in the healthcare sector as well, creating new opportunities for innovative ideas to blossom. It is crucial for business leaders to stay on top of these trends, above the digital wave, and ahead of the competition. The need for customer-centric transformation is more vital than ever, to be open and transparent to patients as they navigate new policies. Healthcare systems and insurance carriers are being forced to respond to new demand rapidly.

We are thrilled to announce that joining us for this edition will be Keynote Speaker Karen B. DeSalvo Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The Digital Healthcare Transformation Assembly has been designed for all of our partners, affiliates, and members to once again gather in our unique format to develop new relationships, collaborate with like-minded peers, and learn cutting edge intelligence to take back home and help tackle the biggest business issues of today.

Limited sponsorship opportunities are available. Download the Digital Healthcare Transformation Assembly Sponsorship Prospectus for more information >>

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