medical Stories March 10, 2016

emergency

A patent application describes how the Apple Watch and iPhone could work together to detect medical emergencies like a heart attack, and automatically call 911.

While the patent wording doesn’t specifically name either the Apple Watch or iPhone, the meaning of one electronic device cooperating with another one seems pretty clear.

An occurrence of one or more “care events” is detected by an electronic device monitoring environmental data and/or user data from one or more sensors. The electronic device transmits one or more alerts regarding the detected occurrence to at least one other electronic device. In some cases, the electronic device may cooperate with at least one other electronic device in monitoring, detecting, and/or transmitting.

Apple says that the setup could detect a range of emergencies, and take appropriate action depending on the severity – ranging from sending an email to a family member at the low end to calling 911 in the most urgent of cases …

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medical Stories December 14, 2015

chemlab

iPhones have already been used for an impressive number of medical applications. We’ve seen them used to screen for skin cancer, manage diabetes, prevent blindness, provide eye examinations and diagnose everything from sleep apnea to bipolar episodes. But the next step could be a $250 organic chemistry lab we can carry in our pocket.

The WSJ has been talking to a couple of startups working in this field, including 6SensorLabs which has a device that can – with the help of a smartphone – detect whether a food really is gluten-free.

The Nima from 6SensorLabs is an organic-chemistry lab small enough to carry in your pocket. Right now it is only good for one thing: detecting gluten in foods at minuscule concentrations, as little as 20 parts per million, the FDA’s threshold for declaring a food “gluten-free.”

The company says that this could be just the start, with future versions able to detect the bacteria that cause food poisoning …

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medical Stories July 16, 2015

ResearchKit iPhone

First pitched by Steve Jobs in 2007 as “an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator,” the iPhone has since evolved into a medical device of sorts as software has gotten smarter and sensors have become more advanced in recent years.

Apple embraced this with iOS 8 and the rollout of HealthKit, a framework which allows medical and health apps to share data with each other and your doctors with your permission. Apple’s open source ResearchKit took it a step further by allowing developers to turn apps into scientific health and medical research tests.

Scientific American recently profiled three smartphone apps in development that point to how the iPhone could become even better at monitoring our health. The apps in development aim to determine what a patient’s cough means, diagnose sleep apnea, and even predict a bipolar episode before it starts… expand full story

medical Stories July 13, 2015

ARP3603500

A few days after Buzzfeed revealed that Purdue Pharma was investigating the use of Apple’s ResearchKit platform to assist in developing new drugs, the piece has been updated to reveal that GlaxoSmithKline has similar plans.

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest drug developers, told BuzzFeed News it is “currently working on integrating (ResearchKit) into clinical trials and planning to start in coming months.”

While some had assumed that ResearchKit would be used to assist only with not-for-profit research, Apple said that the company is willing to make the platform available to “anybody that is going to make an impact on people’s health” …  expand full story

medical Stories June 22, 2015

IMG_1865ed

The equipment needed to carry out a proper eye examination typically costs $20-40k; the Smart Vision Labs SVOne aims to reduce that cost to just $4k by using an iPhone as part of the kit. The iPhone takes a series of photos of the eye, while an app performs the analysis and generates a prescription.

We were given a demo of the kit last year (video below), but the company needed funding to make it possible. Smart Vision announced today that it’s raised $6.1M in institutional funding led by Techstars Ventures. The funding allows it to scale its production and expand the team, helping it reach an estimated billion people around the world who don’t currently have access to eye examinations …  expand full story

medical Stories May 7, 2015

kit

One of the things I find most inspiring about the iPhone is the way it can be adapted to create very low-cost versions of what would otherwise be very expensive medical equipment, unaffordable in many parts of the world. We’ve previously seen this approach taken for things as diverse as HIV tests, skin cancer detection and eye injury diagnosis.

The UC Berkeley has just added blood parasite detection to the list, using a 3D-printed case, Arduini board with Bluetooth module and LED lighting …  expand full story

medical Stories April 21, 2015

The iPhone has become a mature platform for health and fitness software in recent years, especially since iOS 8 introduced HealthKit and the dedicated Health app followed by ResearchKit and a new set of medical apps. Today a new app called One Drop is launching with an ambitious goal: to help people with diabetes live a happier and healthier life. expand full story

medical Stories March 30, 2015

watch-healthkit

While health tech has to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the agency will be taking “an almost hands-off approach” to fitness-oriented wearables like the Apple Watch, says policy advisor Bakul Patel in an interview in Bloomberg.

“We are taking a very light touch, an almost hands-off approach,” Patel, the FDA’s associate director for digital health, said in an interview. “If you have technology that’s going to motivate a person to stay healthy, that’s not something we want to be engaged in.”

Patel said the FDA would be drawing a distinction between products whose health claims focused on fitness rather than diagnosis …  expand full story

medical Stories March 19, 2015

researchkit-future

We’ve already seen the potential of Apple’s ResearchKit platform to sign up large numbers of participants to medical studies in an incredibly short time, but a reported conversation between the founder of an open science non-profit and an Apple VP suggests that the potential goes far beyond this.

Fusion, in an extensive profile, reports that Apple may be intending to collect anonymised health data in a central database accessible to medical researchers around the world, enabling each to benefit from that shared data to forward their own studies. The vision was initially put forward at a conference back in September, long before ResearchKit was announced, by Stephen Friend, the founder of Seattle-based Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit that champions open science and data sharing.

“Imagine ten trials, several thousand patients. Here you have genetic information, and you have what drugs they took, how they did. Put that up in the cloud, and you have a place where people can go and query it, [where] they can make discoveries.” In this scenario, Friend said, patients would be able to control who could access their information, and for which purposes. But their health data would be effectively open-sourced.

Apple reportedly took an immediate interest in the idea …  expand full story

medical Stories January 7, 2015

Apple Watch at Colette

Apple Watch at Colette

Apple has picked up a few new hires and advisors to assist its growing Watch team ahead of the Apple Watch launch currently on track for March. Among them, Apple has recently hired another executive from the fashion industry, this time from Louis Vuitton, in addition to two new hires from the medical industry. expand full story

medical Stories September 15, 2014

Apple-watch-team

Apple has now named new Marketing and Medical VPs for its Apple Watch team following the product’s official unveiling earlier this month. The company has also today posted its first job listing seeking software engineers for the Apple Watch team on its website.  expand full story

medical Stories August 11, 2014

health_hero_2x

Reuters noted today that Apple is working with healthcare professionals at hospitals across the country, including Mount Sinai and John Hopkins, in preparation for the rollout of the HealthKit system in iOS 8. The goal is to ensure that medical personnel are ready to read data from the system when it ships later this year.

This move is hardly surprising, as Apple intends HealthKit to serve as a collection place for all of a user’s health-related data, which can be valuable—even lifesaving—during a medical emergency. In fact, the Mayo Clinic demoed the first HealthKit-enabled application earlier this year during WWDC:

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medical Stories June 4, 2014

Healthkit-WWDC-01

Whenever Apple introduces a new feature baked into iOS that was previously a domain ruled by third-party apps like its new HealthKit platform and Health app in iOS 8, questions inevitably come up about how it will impact other developers and competing platforms. That’s why we were interested in finding out how some of the top fitness and health app developers and accessory makers are reacting to Apple’s HealthKit announcement.

We reached out to some of the big names in the health and fitness app world, as well as companies like Withings and iHealth that sell iOS-connected health and medical accessories such as blood pressure monitors through Apple stores. Not only did all of the companies we spoke with— RunKeeper, Withings, Strava, and iHealth— confirm they are already planning integration with their ecosystems, they also talked about how having one central location for users to manage health and fitness data will indeed be a good thing for the business.

RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs told me he’s excited that Apple is bringing “some of the other key players in the ecosystem (doctors, EMRs, etc) into the discussion” and confirmed both his RunKeeper and Breeze app will soon support Healthkit. Others are also excited for integration with the medical industry that currently uses a highly fragmented record keeping system for health data.

Here’s what they had to say: expand full story

medical Stories May 8, 2014

skin

Early testing of an iPhone app developed to detect melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer – found an accuracy rate of around 85 percent. This is similar to that achieved by specialist dermatologists, and more accurate than examination by primary care physicians.

Melanoma, usually caused by too much exposure to the sun, is responsible for around three-quarters of all skin cancer deaths. It’s dangerous because it can spread quickly if not caught at an early stage, but surgery has a high success rate if the condition is detected and treated soon after symptoms appear …  expand full story

medical Stories July 18, 2013

Apple’s Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield, Kevin Lynch

Apple’s Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield, Kevin Lynch

Apple has begun assembling a team of hardware and software engineering, medical sensor, manufacturing, and fitness experts, indicating the company is moving forward with a project to build a fitness-oriented, sensor-laden wearable computer, according to our sources.

Over the past half-decade-or-so, Apple has experimented with and shelved numerous wearable computer designs. Internal prototypes have included designs that could clip onto different pieces of clothing (like an iPod shuffle/nano) in addition to devices that could wrap around a wrist.

Based on comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook and numerous reports, the wrist is the part of the body in which top Apple executives are currently targeting…

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medical Stories May 24, 2013

uchek-urine-analysis

Bloomberg reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is launching a first of its kind inquiry into medical diagnosis apps starting with the ‘uChek’ urine analysis app from Biosense Technologies. The free app, which is currently still on the App Store, requires users to purchase a kit containing urine test strips that can be visually analyzed with the iPhone’s camera. The problem, according to a letter sent to Biosense from the FDA, is the fact that the test strips have only been cleared for “direct visual reading” and not automated analysis from an application:

Please note that though the types of urinalysis dipsticks you reference for use with your application are cleared, they are only cleared when interpreted by direct visual reading.  Since your app allows a mobile phone to analyze the dipsticks, the phone and device as a whole functions as an automated strip reader.  When these dipsticks are read by an automated strip reader, the dipsticks require new clearance as part of the test system.  Therefore, any company intending to promote their device for use in analyzing, reading, and/or interpreting these dipsticks need to obtain clearance for the entire urinalysis test system (i.e., the strip reader and the test strips, as used together).

While Biosense plans to work with the FDA to resolve the issue, Bloomberg notes that this is only the start of a broader crack down on apps that claim to diagnose medical conditions: expand full story

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