Thursday, June 5, 2014

Apple's on-stage HealthKit goof proves it still has to earn the trust of the health community | VentureBeat | Health | by Mark Sullivan

Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, an image flashed up on the screen behind VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi. It was a screen shot from Apple's new Health app (or a mockup thereof), showing a user's blood glucose level.

But Apple biffed the measurement for blood glucose level, as Aaron Rowe of biochemical testing device maker Integrated Plasmonics pointed out. It's measured in mg/dL. Apple's slide said "mL/dL."

Of course, this probably says nothing about the finished version of the Apple Health app we'll see released with iOS 8 next fall. But it does raise an important issue for any company embarking on the new frontier of healthcare biosensing and informatics, no matter what form: To achieve the vision of a unified, consumer-driven health platform, they're going to have to get the real, clinical healthcare stuff right.

It's no secret that many in the healthcare community have serious doubts about the accuracy of the consumer health apps and gadgets available today. And a number of studies have reinforced those doubts. Consumer apps and devices are often inconsistent in their findings, reporting very different results in two tests of the exact same conditions. Clinicians are especially suspicious of apps that rely on the user to self-report key body metrics.

And that's just the data collection part. The hard part is processing the data and taking meaning from it in a way that improves care. If developers don't get this right, caregivers won't use the consumer health data collected in their apps, devices, and platforms.

"It will be really important for companies to justify their interpretations of the information they provide to achieve physician buy in," said Dr. Molly Maloof, a San Francisco Bay Area clinical physician focused on health optimization. "Otherwise, these consumer-focused devices will be written off as health toys rather than health tools."

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