Ever since the launch of the Macintosh computer Apple have changed how we live our day-to-day lives both personally and professionally. The iPod and iTunes changed the music industry forever and the iPhone stuck two fingers up to the status quo of the telecoms handset industry. The soon-to-be-launched Apple Watch will move the world into an ambient era of information, where content is delivered based on context and situation.
This time around the revolution the Apple Watch will create is in healthcare. In the UK, Apple’s smartwatch will have a fundamental impact on the way the NHS (National Health Service) runs, and it would appear the transformation of a digitally impaired healthcare system, currently struggling under a budget black hole and an ageing customer base, is well and truly in Apple’s hands.
The reason is this. Even if the Apple Watch is only bought by, say, 10 percent of smartwatch owners, the mainstream adoption of such devices will have caught fire, simply down to Apple entering the market. People will desire a smartwatch capable of the same features of the Apple device which includes activity tracking and heart rate monitoring.
Similarly to smartphones Google will have the cheaper end of the market covered, and just as Apple have HealthKit – the software that is capable of capturing body data and making it understandable to the average wearer – Google has Fit. By the end of 2015 people’s Twitter feeds will be full to the brim of updates of their workouts, whether you want to know or not.
This mountain of data, which is being generated 24/7, will grow and grow. Imagine an Apple Watch owner in 2017 with two years of collected health data. A visit to the doctor will be a different experience altogether since there’s no longer any need for the doctor to run through pages of questions – they simply need to request the patient’s body data (and yes, HealthKit allows for secure sharing of this information to healthcare professionals).
The information will give a much more truthful account than the person would give themselves and, for a number of conditions, will be vital in quick diagnoses.
By 2017 millions of people in the U.K. will be wearing devices like this and the overall benefit to the NHS will be clear. Quicker diagnosis means less time with doctors, less time in hospitals, lower costs to the system, and this is all before we discuss the preventative benefits the devices and other digital health technologies will bring.
While body data is tracked in the background, it is visible to wearers both when they choose to see it, and when algorithms alert the wearer that they need to consider the impact of their lifestyle.
Push notifications can be set up to alert people to bad habits, such as lack of activity, movement, sleep or, more than likely, all of the above! If self-awareness is the first step to kicking bad habits then the preventative care factor alone of the Apple Watch and similar devices will save the NHS billions.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, recently said that he wants to build products that enrich people’s lives. Not only is he achieving this, but his latest upcoming product is going to enrich society, at the very least for the benefits to healthcare systems worldwide – and in the UK we sorely need it.