The inspiration for the Apple Watch, according to a recent Wired article on the Watch’s “secret history,” was the realization that our phones have begun to control our lives. They’re intrusive and addictive; their (relatively) large screens and literally endless supply of apps encourage long-term interaction, which ultimately takes us away from real life and the real people right in front of us. The Apple Watch provides many of the conveniences that smartphones and tablets provide — e.g., access to email, texts, phone calls; the ability to pay for goods and services — but its interface also limits interaction to five or ten seconds instead of five or ten minutes (or hours!), allowing us to get on with our lives.
Going Beyond the Pill
Apple’s HealthKit framework has great potential to connect and aggregate the tools available to manage our health and the Watch has two built-in fitness-related apps, but if you want apps that go even further in helping to manage your health, options are currently limited. Right now, there are only a handful of third-party apps designed to do things like manage medications, connect wearers with healthcare providers or connect healthcare providers with patient health records. This is where I believe the Apple Watch’s potential lies — in enabling wearers to maximize health by helping us connect easily with health information and, in turn, make better decisions about how to stay healthy.
The Future Is Now
A recent article from MobiHealthNews about FDA regulation of pharmaceutical apps listed several categories where pharma could excel in the health-app arena. Adherence apps are of particular interest and provide an excellent opportunity for pharma to build brand loyalty by providing value beyond the pill.
Two hospital systems are currently conducting digital medicine trials using the Apple Watch to help manage hypertension and to determine how nurses and physicians can benefit from incorporating the Watch into a medical home program. Of particular interest, one company has developed an FDA-approved, prescription-only app that helps patients manage their diabetes and is covered by insurance. This app is currently available for iPad®, iPhone® and iPod®, but it can only be a matter of time before it’s compatible with the Apple Watch.
Healthcare journalists and bloggers speculate that prescription apps may be commonplace in the very near future. If so, it won’t be long before the apps designed for our phones also begin to appear on our wrists. Intouch Solutions is already helping clients develop platforms to be used in conjunction with treatments in clinical trials. If you have been following us over the past 16 years, you know we are always forward-facing, always looking for better ways to serve our clients, and the people they serve … so look for us to be on the frontlines of those developments!