Apple HealthKit: Everything you need to know about

By StartxLabs
Date 26-03-21
Apple HealthKit: Everything you need to know about
" Apple HealthKit: Everything you need to know about"

 

Apple's Health App

 

The Health App was launched on iPhone and Apple watches on 17 September 2014, by Apple Inc. It is an application that is associated with health informatics, which holds information about blood pressure, blood glucose levels, exercise tracking data such as step counts, and more. The app stores four categories of data such as nutrition, activity, mindfulness, and sleep. The profile of users in the Health app is called the "Medical ID".

 

Health app lacked certain features when released with iOS 8. They mainly include incompatibility with third-party apps, poor app performance, improper health information explanation, and more. Later, they were rectified by a software update. The app was made to improve its performance by providing upgrades in the upcoming years. They are,

 

  • By 2016, users were able to sign up to donate organs, eyes, and tissues in the Health App.

  • In 2018, ECG measurement along with cardiac health monitoring was made possible to the users of the Health app. It was in 2018, Apple introduced "Health Records" on iOS 11.3  where users can store and import their health records from hospitals or doctors.

  • In 2019, tracking facilities such as cycle tracks, monitoring of noise level was introduced along with iOS 13.

  • Finally, as of 2020, the app can store data types such as steps, the distance of walking and run, heart rate, sleep analysis, nutrition, weight, variability, and flights climbed. It was in 2020, the app became compatible with other devices such as La Roche-Posay My Skin UV sensor, Withings smart blood pressure monitorBeddit Sleep monitor,  Withings thermometer, Upright Go 2 posture trainer, and Withings smart scales.

 

To learn more about the recent updates on the Apple Health app kindly visit, iOS 13 which brings new features to Apple Health App.

 

Apple HealthKit

 

Apple HealthKit is an integrated healthcare API introduced in iOS SDK. The API is used by the software builders to develop apps that can coordinate with the health and fitness apps on iPhones and Apple watches. Its logo consists of a white-colored icon with a heart in its center. It enables the users to store data related to the medical, healthcare, and well-being of an individual on the iPhones and allows him/her to access it. It stores the users' information such as blood pressure level, sleep level, body weight, glucose level, and more. It helps diagnose a user's level of health and also assists in providing transparent communication between doctors and patients. With the permission of a user, apps on the iPhone communicate with it and access the user's data while maintaining the security and privacy of the user's sensitive information. With this app, you can select the task in which you are interested in doing. For example, you can select weight-tracking, pressure level checking, or step-counting from a bunch of tasks available on that app and start doing them. Since the app exchanges your data with your permission, you can easily customize the tasks according to your needs.

 

Benefits

 

The Health App makes it easier to keep everything about your health and fitness organized and can be accessed from one place. As it can integrate with the other fitness and healthcare apps, you can view your progress easily. The Healthkit app integrates with other fitness and healthcare apps such as beddit, breathometer, heartbeats, and more. There are so many benefits of using this Health App, both on a long-term basis and in your daily life. Some of them are,

 

  • Get a clear view:

    • The app keeps track of all your information related to your health and fitness.

    • From your height and weight to the number of steps you made today, everything will be clearly available on it.

    • It provides a clear view about yourself, like how you are and what you do.

  • Keep Track:

    • The app stores the user's data on heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, nutrition, respiratory rate, and more, so that users can easily share them with the doctor during consulting.

    • The interactive charts show how consistently maintain your blood pressure and sugar levels from the past days, weeks, or months.

  • Set your Sleep Goals:

    • Sleep is essential for all beings in the world, and in this busy world, we actually don't care about whether we are having proper sleep or not. With this app, you can manage your sleeping schedule, have a proper pre-bedtime routine, and set up sleeping goals.

  • Easy Sorting:

    • Tracking information about your health is not an easy thing. It includes various sorts of data. However, by using this app, you can have a variety of data sorted, and accessing data from the app is simple.

  • Be less sedentary:

    • Most people suffer from various disorders just because of being sedentary and lack of mobility. Apple Health App provides features such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS to keep track of your mobile data such as workouts, walking steps, walking speed, and more.

  • Symptoms and Follow ups:

    • It helps in easy following up of chronic patients for treatment.

    • Symptom checking apps can also integrate and access data from the HealthKit app.

 

HealthKit shares its data also with the fertility tracking apps such as Clue and Ovia.

 

Apple HealthKit works with numerous hospitals in USA to improve proper monitoring of patients' records. Besides these, it integrates with multiple third-party health apps allowing users to get in touch with their health status. Some of them are,

 

  • Calm is an app that helps in guiding meditation, provides you sleep stories, music for stretching and relaxing, and also provides breathing programs.

  • Meditopia app helps you to be calm and less stressed and guides you to do meditation peacefully.

  • The Waterminder app enables you to keep track of your water intake on a daily basis. You will reminded to drink water to complete daily goals. The daily water intake goals are specific for an individual based on their body weight.

  • Lose it! is a nutrition and calorie tracking app that helps you to maintain your proper weight and to eat healthy foods.

  • Zova app is your health expert that has workouts, wellness coaching, and nutrition plans.

 

Design

 

  • Apple HealthKit provides the developers, an easy-to-use and efficient interface to develop health apps.

  • It is a structured framework that enables developers to build efficient apps. It lets users compare different data without the need of viewing multiple screens at once.

  • HealthKit is well noted for its security, data recovery, and privacy.

  • It lets developers create apps without the need for complex and custom coding.

  • Users don't need to establish connections manually between the applications to import or export their information.

  • Apps built using the HealthKit framework can easily exchange data because of its easy integration.

To know more about the HealthKit's Design, please visit HealthKit - Human Interface Guidelines - Apple Developer.

 

Apple's Ecosystem

 

Apple lets its users store and track their information in one platform and conveniently access them. For this purpose, it has three products- Healthkit, Researchkit, and Carekit. These three apps form an ecosystem to work with various types of data.

  • HealthKit- This framework lets the third-party applications maintain consistent communication with the Health app. It acts as a container to store different types of data that allows the users to store, access, and collect medical and healthcare information.

  • ResearchKit- This framework collects data from a huge number of people to use the data for research. It has 3 modules:

    • Survey: Researchers use this module to create quick surveys for research purposes.

    • Consent: Researchers will be notified with the details of the research and a form that explains the consent of the participating users through this module.

    • Active Tasks: Through this module, participants will be invited to participate in certain tasks of collecting data about the conditions of the users through iPhone sensors.

  • CareKit- CareKit framework enables the users to manage and keep track of data that is associated with long-term illness, recovery after surgery, chronic conditions, and more. It has 4 modules:

    • Care card: Lets patients take their medications on time.

    • Symptom & Measurement Tracker: Helps patients to track their symptoms and recovery progress.

    • Insight Dashboard: Lets users compare different treatments and analyze which one will be better.

    • Connect: Helps patients share their data with family, friends, and medical staff.

 

HealthKit DataTypes

 

HealthKit provides developers variety of data types which is identified by the HKObjectType subclasses. For a simpler understanding of data, they have been divided into vitamins, vital signs, body measurements, minerals, and hydration.  The different data types are:

 

  • HKCharacteristicType includes information that doesn’t change. This subclass includes data such as skin type, blood type, sex, and birth date.

  • HKCategoryType includes a chosen choice from a list of options (for example, mood after sleep)

  •  HKQuantityType includes numerical values (calories burned, total walking steps)

  • HKWorkoutType includes data associated with workouts (workout type, time)

  • HKCorrelationType represents complex types of data (calories in food items)

  • HKDocumentType helps to make document queries (prescriptions)

  • HKActivitySummaryType represents all information about user activities

 

HKSeriesType Includes a series of data (for example, data of heartbeat series)

 

Privacy is a key

 

Apple aims to provide constant monitoring of the users' health information via Apple devices in new ways and to connect directly to the EHRs. The app lets you access all your data from a single device. Your information is restricted under Apple's privacy policy and is encrypted during their storage on iCloud. It is always recommended to review the policies before letting the apps access your sensitive data. iPhones provide Touch ID and Face ID to the users to ensure safe data transfer between the devices.

 

Future of the Fitness Apps

 

These fitness apps created a revolution in fitness and healthcare digitally. They eliminate the need for an individual to approach the hospital to give samples to identify their blood sugar levels, pressure levels and to wait for a long time to receive reports in this rapidly moving world.

 

These apps provide an accurate calculation of data that enables the reduction of risks related to health and life. These apps also provide benefits for the developers as they collect an enormous amount of data which can boost the functionality of future apps.

 

We nowadays use gadgets for most of our activities. We use them for social media, listening to music, and more. However using gadgets for our benefits, to improve our health, and to keep ourselves fit will be unavoidably compelling to lead a better life.

 

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