Healthcare is witnessing its first real platform being built on top of patient data, and it should scare anyone whose business model is dependent on data hoarding or building proprietary databases without patient consent. The ability to offer patient-information-as-a-service is truly a game changer. Companies can bypass the problem of collecting data to train algorithms or the interoperability issues associated with connecting datasets together.
An interesting note in their press release was at the bottom after Apple described potential use cases:
Medical Research: With the new Health Records API, doctors can integrate patient medical data into their ResearchKit study apps for a more complete view of their participants’ health background. Traditionally, researchers used arduous survey questionnaires to determine pre-existing conditions, which puts the burden on the patient to remember the details. Now, with the participants’ approval, researchers can access that patient-specific information to ensure more comprehensive research.
Anyone that works in research can attest to how big of a deal being able to easily access comprehensive longitudinal data about research participants is. Researchers are dependent on participants inputting data themselves, which is subject to what participants remember. This API can reduce the friction for participants when signing up, identify potential participants for studies, AND confirm + connect hard-to-remember/granular data points that might be relevant to the research.
At WWDC, Apple also demonstrated the downsides to being beholden to its platform. The company announced new features that would let you monitor phone and app usage and set limits for yourself or your kids.
In our digital health 2018 trends report, we talked about the examination of links between smartphone/tech usage and mental health. As studies began to connect the two, activist investors pushed Apple to change certain practices around smartphone usage. Apple’s self-regulation here is smart — it signals to its customers that it genuinely cares about their well-being, a useful brand association as it gets into healthcare.
It helps that Apple is in the business of selling hardware and services instead of advertising.
A growing crisis
We put together a market map of some companies that are trying to help democratize access to mental health services. Clients can access the market map here.
The mental health struggles America is facing are getting worse, especially among young adults. Numbers from the CDC are staggering — suicides have increased steadily for the last 8 years in people ages 10-19. For teens between 15-19, about 1 in every 10,000 committed suicide.
We need to address this problem, because it’s getting worse. We’re seeing happen with teens, celebrities, and everyone in between. Mental health has historically been sidelined in the health system, but we’re seeing more evidence of how it’s both a massive standalone health issue and one that contributes to comorbidities and overall deteriorating health.
My hope going forward is that mental health will be better integrated into overall health and more resources will be dedicated to it.