What’s up with the Apple Health App?

health app icon 1

“What is this app for?”

I was asking everyone around the house–what was this new app that showed up on my iTouch? I updated to the iOS (admittedly, a bit late) and, poof!, there it was. A white icon with a pink heart, labeled as ‘Health.’

But what was this new app? Nothing showed up in it when I opened it. My family didn’t have a clue. So, like any good millennial, I took to the web to find out.

As it turns out, this app is pretty useless by itself–but it does take information from a collection of apps that monitor things like your sleep, fitness, nutrition, monthly cycle (since I like to put things delicately), and other biomarkers.  Health takes the information and puts it all in one place: its dashboard.

What’s the point? you may wonder. Sure, having it in one place is convenient, but why would Apple develop this? The point, it seems, is to revitalize health care for the technology age. Health allows patients to share their medical information–from nutrition to blood glucose levels–directly with their doctors and other healthcare providers. The app even allows medical documents and lab results to be viewed in-app.

After reading that, my first thought was, Is that safe? Apple tries to assure us that it is. All the information is encrypted. But I also worry about storing all my sensitive information into an app and letting a bunch of third-party apps have access to my information (Apple warns users to read privacy policies for the third-party apps users choose to enable in Health). Most important is the possibility of HIPAA laws being violated (basically, HIPAA is a law created to protect patients’ private information from leaking, whether celebrities’ information into the media or your identifiable information being stolen).

Another thing to think about is that this is a free service–so what is Apple getting out of it? Do they hold on to your information? Is there some data mining going on? I don’t know, but I wonder. Mostly because I read this article some time last semester. Scary stuff.

There is some cool stuff in Health, though. Or at least in the concept. The health app has an emergency medical card the is accessible from your lock screen. It could be great for someone with an acute illness since her doctor could check her progress. If someone was just going to figure out what makes her feel best–When should I get to sleep,  should I have carbs for breakfast or not, and why do I feel so tired around 2:00?–the all-in-one dashboard feature would be very helpful for tracking all the necessary information.

While I see some possible issues with the transparency of this new app, I also see a great need that this app fills. I am currently not using the Health app, but I look forward to Apple clearing up worries about privacy and HIPAA compliance.

For Apple users, are you using the Health app? Are the Android users looking into Google Fit?


2 thoughts on “What’s up with the Apple Health App?

    • Mariana says:

      I just did an orientation to volunteer at a hospital, so HIPAA is right at the forefront in my mind. I do see this app as being very helpful, just to reiterate, I even see it as capable of revolutionizing healthcare as we know it.
      I hope this app is helpful for you–being able to track health across apps and different activities is a really great opportunity to take preventative care into our own hands. Best of luck!

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