Health Apps For The Apple Watch | Wing (Bernadette) Cheung, PharmD | RxEconsult

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Using The Apple Watch To Improve Health Category: Digital Technology by - April 4, 2015 | Views: 29544 | Likes: 2 | Comment: 1  

Wear an Apple Watch, keep the doctor away?

Apple changed the way we use mobile phones with the first release of the iPhone almost 10 years ago. Now, the innovative company has entered the mobile health and wearable device market with the Apple Watch. Unlike ordinary watches, the Apple Watch has features and apps that can help everyone improve their health. It is equipped with many tools to make tracking health a lot easier. It has a heart rate sensor that determines intensity level and improves the accuracy of the measurement of calories burned. Its accelerometer can track body movements to calculate calories burned throughout the day. It uses WiFi and GPS on the iPhone to accurately measure distance and speed. Along with personalized feedback and customizable coaching reminders, the Apple Watch encourages users by awarding special badges for each achievement. Users may also use the watch to see progress and trends over long periods of time and share the data with applications on the iPhone. 

Like the iPhone, the Apple Watch uses apps to deliver and extend its functionality. It has native health apps such as the built-in Activity and Workout apps as well as other third-party developed health applications. Apple hopes that its new innovative wearable device will change how we manage our health while revolutionizing the mobile health market.

The Activity App

This built-in application motivates users to be more healthy with three colorful rings that signify Stand, Move, Exercise. The Stand ring, as its name implies, tracks how often you stand up. It reminds you every hour to take a break from sitting. The ring closes once you stand up and move around for at least one minute. The Move ring tracks how many active calories you have burned throughout the day. This ring closes when you have met your personal goal for the day. The Exercise ring tracks how many minutes of brisk activity you have completed in a day, and it closes once you have reached the recommended thirty minutes of exercise. The goal is to close all 3 rings everyday. 

The Workout App

This application is also built-in in every Apple Watch. It tracks goals, provides progress updates, and presents workout summaries. During cardiovascular workouts such as running, cycling, or using an elliptical machine it tracks elapsed time, distance, calories, pace, and speed. It shows the last and best workout for each exercise with goals that are adjustable by the user. It provides workout progress, summary, and motivates its user by displaying timely encouragement as the user is exercising. 

Third-Party Health Applications

Many health apps have already been approved for this innovative watch. This includes the Nike+ app that can track runs and provide extra motivation. Also for running is the Strava app that provides real-time statistics like elevation gain, average speed, distance, and heart rate, along with segment-by-segment updates. Similarly, the Runtastic app provides information such as speed, distance, duration, pace, and calories burned. 

For those who are diet-conscious, the Lifesum app can track how much food and water you have consumed during the day and give feedback afterwards to help you pick the right food and portion size for the next meal. Specifically designed for busy doctors, the Mayo Clinic Synthesis can display schedules and basic patient information such as age, sex, and weight. It also lets doctors know whether a patient is in the lobby, an exam room, or has completed their appointment. 

There are interesting applications that are currently being developed. Mango Health, for example, is developing an application that will help patients manage medications and improve adherence through dose reminders, drug interaction information, health history, and  it gives points and rewards for taking medications on time. DexCom Share app is also being developed for the Apple Watch. It tracks blood glucose in patients with diabetes through its tiny Class III medical device that is positioned under the skin to measure glucose levels every five minutes. Cohero Health is also developing an Apple Watch application that can track medication adherence and lung function with the help of the company’s inhaler strap and mobile spirometer that capture FEV1 and FVC levels. It is also syncs the information with the AsthmaHero mobile app and relays the data to healthcare providers. The Propeller Health application helps asthmatic patients monitor inhaler usage through its Bluetooth sensor. It has a location-sensing application that tracks weather, pollen count, and air quality so that patients are more aware of levels of their asthmatic triggers.

Apple’s attempt to promote wellness through their new Apple Watch may be successful. One device that does so many useful things may eventually prove to be indispensable, just like the iPhone. With the variety of current applications and the developer kit for developers to build more health related applications, health fanatics, patients, as well as those who want to lose an extra couple of pounds may find that help is on their wrist. May be someday, the new buzz phrase will be Wear an Apple Watch, keep the doctor away.  


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