Apple plan to revolutionize mobile healthcare: Personalized medicine at the horizon on the iPhone and the likes

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Apple has unveiled HealthKit, a platform to centralise data from different types of devices, like fitness trackers, heart rate and blood pressure monitors.

iphone healthLaunching iOS 8 for iPhones and iPads, which it describes as the biggest release since the launch of the App Store, Apple gave much prominence to HealthKit, which “gathers the information you choose from your various health apps and fitness devices, and provides you with a clear and current overview in one place”. The new operating system offers developers the ability for these apps “to communicate with each other”, the company said, and with permission of the user, each app can use specific information from other apps “to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness”.

Apple gave the example of the Nike+ apps using NikeFuel which “will be able to pull in other key HealthKit metrics such as sleep and nutrition to build a custom user profile”. It has also teamed up with Mayo Clinic in a move which will see the world-famous medical group launch a new app in September offering its patients and consumers easy-access personalised health information, guidance and care when they need it. Mayo chief executive John Noseworthy said that “we believe Apple’s HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people”. Apple is also collaborating with the electronic health records major Epic Systems so that HealthKit can be used by healthcare professionals to monitor specific patient data. Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering, said the scheme is giving developers “amazing new tools” to make managing health from devices “an integrated, simple and secure experience”.

Such technologies may help to make one day personalized medicine truly personal. Individuals may compare vital data, collected from  themselves  via devices such as,  let’s say, iWatches and other wearables, with their resulting phenotype (i.e., diabetic, obese, anemic, etc.). Based on their own personal genetic background related to these phenotypes, individuals may decide on measures to take on a personal basis (for example, talk to friends about her/his condition in social networks, request more information about her/his condition from intelligent online knowledge sytems, see the doctor, etc.). All at her/his pace, and at her/his level of trust, comfort, and privacy. Perhaps, she/he feels like sharing her/his experience, fears, questions, and successes with the community. That’s what social networks in health and disease could be all about.

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Joseph Gut - thasso Ph.D.; Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Senior expert in theragenomic and personalized medicine and individualized drug safety. Senior expert in pharmaco- and toxicogenetics. Senior expert in human safety of drugs, chemicals, environmental pollutants, and dietary ingredients.
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