Apple meeting with US FDA to discuss mobile health technologies

Apple meeting with US FDA to discuss mobile health technologies

The next area Apple plans on revolutionizing is health. Following on their text book and education initiative, they're pushing deep into medical sensors, and looking to bring their unique brand of accessible mainstream problem solving to something that can really change lives. Given that, it should come as no surprise that Apple has been meeting with the United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss mobile medical apps. Nick Bilton and Brian X. Chen, New York Times:

mong the participants from Apple were Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations; Bud Tribble, vice president of software technology at Apple; Michael O’Reilly, who joined Apple last year; and an employee from Apple’s government affairs department.

On the F.D.A. side of the table were Jeff Shuren, the director of the agency’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and Bakul Patel, who drafted the F.D.A.’s mobile medical app guidance and is a staunch advocate for patient safety when it comes to apps and medical gadgets.

Look at the phone you have today, then imagine an iPhone 6 or iWatch you might have tomorrow, and let me know — can you imagine something that ties both together and lets you track both your fitness and health as easily in the future as you do your entertainment and business today?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple meeting with US FDA to discuss mobile health technologies


Pulse/Ox sensors feeding apps... Continuous glucose monitoring feeding apps... Apps controlling insulin pumps... just scratching the surface...

It really can be the silver bullet if they can nail it. Of course, addressing the root cause and building better life habits is the key, but technology that helps us stay aware and responsible could be very empowering.

We're working on this here in New Zealand in asthma with monitoring of inhaler use via a small Bluetooth connected device and an app that can upload data to the phone and cloud for review by the patient, GP etc.

There so much that can be done if these two collaborate together. This could mean healthier consumers.

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I'll definitely buy the iPhone 6S when my 2-year contract is up, and I'll be beyond thrilled if the iWatch has been around for a year by then!! :) I have the Pebble to tide me over, but I expect the iWatch to outdo the Pebble without any contest. Frankly, health monitoring will be incredible and a game-changer because of the seamless way it will integrate into our lives. We'll look back and wonder how we got on without it! Plus I'm sure Apple will integrate plenty of other features that make the Pebble look like, well, a pebble...

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I have long believed mobile devices should address two major purposes: to serve;and to protect.

Existing smartphones and tablets serve well. They meet entertainment, knowledge, productivity and even some health service needs well.

But they are lousy at protecting, and I think this is what Apple intends to fix with what I have notionally called the "iWatch Guardian".

I expect an iWatch able to provide basic protection on its own. Pairing it with an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad would add bonus features to the essentials covered by the watch.

The iWatch Guardian would have both WiFi and cellular connectivity, enabling constant Siri connection.

What would it do? Well, just one example, impacts.

The Guardian would know your vital particulars, and use them to look after your interests. If the watch recorded an impact to your body, for example, it would know that at age 30 you would likely shrug that level of impact off, but at 80 years, it might be life-threatening, and act accordingly. It could just ask the 30-year-old if he was OK, but take action calling 911 if an 80-year-old didn't reply right away to a similar query. As the A7 chip does now, it would know if you are walking, in a car, or on public transport. It would know and be able to report a bike or car accident, including location and the response it was getting from you. Your medical information, stored in the same secure A7 compartment that has fingerprint data, could be shared with properly-identified first responders.

Sensors in the Guardian could perform a variety of tasks: verification of pacemaker performance; glucose or heart-rate monitoring; the taking of medications, etc.

The tasks that could be performed by an iWatch Guardian are almost unlimited, once you begin to think guardianship. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Why not. Dermal sensors to warn of fever? Sure.

Why a watch for this? Because you strap it on and it is always on your body, unlike the iPhone, which often is away from your body.

Paired with another iDevice, the iWatch Guardian could conduct more sophisticated compilation and presentation of information than would be possible on the watch alone.

That's my start on where I think Apple may be headed.

As a registered nurse, this excites me.
There's so much potential here and I can't wait to see the results.

Biometric monitoring is a given, the real challenge will be apps that motivate constructive behavior change. Who is working on that?