Apple is set to update its Health app in iOS 15 that will allow iPhone and Apple Watch users to share their health data with others. At its annual technology showcase known as the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2021, the tech giant revealed a new feature for users who have opted to share their medical records on their devices.
The feature could be useful to caregivers who may be keeping tabs on the health of their loved ones, like elderly parents, from a distance. Users will have full control over the data they share and with whom.
“This past year has emphasized the importance of health, and we’re enabling our users to take a more active role in their well-being. We’ve added powerful features that give users the most comprehensive set of insights to better understand their health trends over time,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
The app will also allow patients to learn more about lab tests and their results without having to run an Internet search.
Apple has also introduced Walking Steadiness feature on iPhone which will provide insights into fall risk by capturing important mobility data as users walk with their iPhone. According to company’s statement, “More than 37 million people each year require medical attention as a result of a fall, which can often be a tipping point for more serious conditions and a loss of independence.” Walking Steadiness offers the added ability to capture everyday movements and surface classifications within the Health app as OK, Low, or Very Low, allowing users to proactively act and reduce their risk of falling.
In addition to alerting users of possible fall risk, Walking Steadiness helps users meet their stability goals. Users can choose to receive a notification when their score is Low or Very Low, and be directed to curated visual exercises that are based on clinically validated methods to increase strength and balance.
The Health app adds trend analysis for 20 types of data — ranging from resting heart rate to sleep to cardio fitness — so users can easily see how a given metric is progressing. Users can also keep tabs on goals, like increasing running distance or mindful minutes. For those looking to monitor insights across areas like insulin delivery, trend analysis applies to data from third-party devices connected to the Health app.
What About Privacy?
Apple, which has long positioned itself as the most privacy-conscious tech company, emphasized that Health App data is under a user’s control. Data is encrypted when in transit and while at rest on a user’s device when locked behind a passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID. Apple does not have access to this information when a user chooses to share it with a loved one or doctor.
The new Health Sharing features are set to launch “in the fall”, which usually means sometime in September alongside the launch of new iPhones.