Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Is the iOS 8 Health App Good for Your Health?

Is the iOS 8 Health App Good for Your Health?

Jr. Quality Coordinator

 The use of smartphone apps that assist in personal diet and fitness tracking has increased steadily over the years since the first smartphone, but interest in this technology has seen particularly rapid growth in recent years with the rollout of products like the Nike+ Fuelband and related apps, and most recently, Apple's iOS 8 Health app.

What is the Health app?

In short, the Health app tracks your sleep, nutrition, vitals, and body measurements. Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros

It brings together a variety of health and fitness-related metrics--collated from fitness bands and various third-party devices--that you can easily monitor in a single interface. It has a feature called "Medical ID" in which you can enter all your medical conditions and emergency contacts, so a person helping you (if you were unable to provide the information yourself) would be able to look at your phone and know a little about your medical conditions. To set this up, simply go to the Health app and tap Medical ID. This Medical ID can be viewed when the phone is locked by tapping Emergency. In my case, I am extremely allergic to sulpha and penicillin, so I was excited to be able to have this information readily available to those providing me care. Apple has also created a "HealthKit," which will help developers to make their health apps and sync their data to the Health app. This means that all of your health and fitness apps can communicate and work together. This app will even make it easier to keep a record of your medical conditions when you go to the doctor. Apple sees the Health app as the beginning of a health revolution. Apple's CEO Tim Cook, says this should empower you to take care of yourself over time.

Cons

The app's main purpose will be to sync with the Apple Watch, but that won't be coming out until 2015. Also, Apple was supposed to release the HealthKit at the same time as the Health app so that developers can start building compatible apps, but they were not able to release it due to a last-minute bug. This means that developers will not be able to release their apps as promptly as they expected, which can have a significant impact on the utility of Health. There is also a disadvantage in that your information can be exposed, especially in light of Apple's recent iCloud hack, but each app comes with a privacy policy that all users should agree to before installation.

All in all, the Health app has a lot of potential to be beneficial to our everyday lives. Try it out for yourself and see what you think. Like it? Don't like it? Provide your feedback so the next generation app will be even better!

 

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The Healthy(ist) blog is a platform to share, learn about, and debate topics related to public and social health, scientific research, health communications, and behavior change.
We invite and encourage anyone interested in current public health and health communication trends and issues to join MMG's contributing bloggers in adding their voice to the ongoing discussion about how we can advance health, together.

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