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iPhone as Medical Tricorder

The future is all around us. Our cars will probably never fly, but man we are getting some interesting tech in the last 5 years, driven largely by the worldwide adoption of iOS devices loaded with sensors and the software framework to exploit those scanners. Apple themselves are about to push their “HealthKit”, an API (application programming interface) to access and share health data as collected and processed by the iOS device.

The interesting twist isn’t on the tech side, it’s on the business side. But before delving into that, can you imagine the various advantages to tracking your body health datapoints in real time – how is your sleep this week, your protein intake, your blood sugar, your physical activity? I think we all inherently understand alcohol hangovers, but most of us don’t further tie our moods to our diet & physical health. If my device monitored 5-10 daily levels and I was really having a shitty day, I’d be curious to know what that looked like to avoid it in the future. Think sugar crashes, how much spicy food, hours sitting, lactose intolerance, miles pedaled, acid reflux, body fat, and more serious stuff like peanut allergies, HIV, and other human issues that some of us must manage.

The twist is that Apple, flush with money and influence, is trying to modernize the health insurance market in the US by working with major health providers and insurers. They have made key hires from that industry and have been working for years laying the groundwork. The end result being that HealthKit apps might actually share data with your healthcare providers, allowing them more accuracy, efficiency and hopefully better care.

If you are outside of America, this must be obvious. Who needs your health data more than your doctor? But in the states nothing medical is shared. Everyone has a data silo (which translates into a revenue source), backed up by a federally enforced rule known as HIPAA, and the patient is left to suffer. Yes, we often receive decent care and plenty of scans by expensive cameras, but it comes at a HUGE personal cost, much frustration, and there are many cases of misdiagnosis because of the lack of data sharing.

Apple knows “the iPod model” will keep working – make a device easy and portable enough, add features that actually work at a core level (not marketing me-too fluff like samsung), market it properly, and watch the thing take off. This healthkit thing, if done right, will make our iOS devices our medical iPods, and perhaps the waiting room dance will become as easy as checking into a flight with your iPhone.

I think we are about to get alot more physical with our phones, which is why I think I want a wrist iPhone instead of a pocket iPhone.

Now we can all scan B’Lana. I know I was scanning up and down back then. Hottest Klingon?

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