Since its launch in 2014, Apple’s HealthKit framework has garnered a ton of attention, and not just because it’s the product of a tech giant. With its ability to coordinate your iPhone’s health apps, collect data from them, and make that data accessible to you through the aptly-named Health app, HealthKit has the potential to revolutionize the medical world.
But, like all potentially revolutionary products, HealthKit couldn’t avoid becoming a magnet for controversy. Initial users complained of bugs, analysts doubted whether Apple could succeed where Google and Microsoft failed, and critics questioned the security of the framework itself, especially since its launch came on the heels of a high-profile hacking incident on Apple’s iCloud platform.
Despite these hiccups, I think HealthKit is still worth a try, because of the following.
It Helps Organize Your Health Information
If you’re actively using 100 apps at any one time, it can be stressful to go through all of them and manually construct an overall picture of your health. Since HealthKit brings all of those apps together, you can access, say, the number of steps you walked today with a single tap of the screen. With that information, there’s a 76 percent chance you’ll share information with your doctor when you notice something that could assist in treatment.
However, there’s the danger of patients using it to self-diagnose, rather than using it to complement diagnoses made by licensed medical professionals. Time will tell how this danger plays out.
It Facilitates Accurate Diagnosis
Speaking of doctors, they might have reservations about your use of apps to track health stats. But you might convince them if you bring up one of HealthKit’s crucial advantages: reliability.
See, doctors usually formulate their diagnoses by thoroughly questioning you, the patient. The problem with this approach is that human memory is inherently flawed. If, for example, your doctor asks you what food you ate within the past seven days, and you didn’t bother to track, the best answer you can give is “Sorry, I don’t know. The usual, I suppose?” If you did track, you can say “Well, I ate three plates of this on Monday, drank three bottles of that on Tuesday,” enabling your doctor to pinpoint, with better accuracy, what you should do to improve your diet.
That iCloud hacking fiasco aside, Apple does go to great lengths to protect its users’ security. For one, it discouraged HealthKit’s developers from selling data to data brokers, analytics firms and other third parties. Apple’s security might not be flawless, but it’s already one of the best among its peers. Besides, until someone invents a 100% hacker-proof cloud platform, we’ll have to take hacking as a necessary hazard.
To be fair, HealthKit does need some work. Since it draws from different apps made by different developers, the quality of the data pulled may vary.
It Can Do Almost Anything
For the most part, though, if HealthKit’s developers continue to refine their product, it can change the way people treat their health forever. Since a lot of third-party apps can be plugged into the HealthKit framework, it’s a pretty efficient way to keep tabs on your health. You can even customize the framework according to your health goals. To lose weight, for instance, you can use Human (which tracks how many minutes you move) and Argus (which tracks how many steps you made) together. If tracking appointments is more of a concern for you, use MyChart, HealthLoop and/or onpatient instead.
And that’s just a handful of the apps HealthKit supports. You can find more of them in Apple’s Health & Fitness and Medical categories. With all of that on hand, how can you not be more appreciative of your health?
Image: Health Gauge