Given the amount of attention the Apple Watch’s fitness capabilities have received — indeed, they were touted at as key features at the smartwatch’s official unveiling in March — it was only a matter of time before more developers jumped on the wellness bandwagon. Over the past week, the Apple Watch accrued support from Kaiser Permanente, WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and HealthTap among a bevy of other healthcare startups and providers. The plethora of health apps launched just in time to coincide with the HIMSS15 health conference in Chicago.
So how does each new app leverage the Apple Watch’s activity-sensing accelerometer and heartbeat monitor? Most of them don’t, actually. Proving that not every health app need be a fitness tracker, WebMD‘s forthcoming smartphone companion will keep users on their pill schedule and provide detailed medication instructions via Handoff.
Meanwhile, HealthTap‘s app presents a button to connect you to a primary care doctor for a $3 per minute video consult. Additionally, cFHR from Anthem and CareEvolution will alert customers of available preventative screenings, prescription refills, and new medical information with wrist buzzes. The new Dexcom Follow and Dexcom Share2 app allows users of Dexcom’s Continuous Glucose Monitor System to track and invite other Apple Watch owners to view glucose levels.
Then, there are the fitness trackers. Kaiser Permanente’s Every Body Walk! app will get an update that’ll allow customers to set fitness goals, track activity, and view statistics from an Apple Watch, and Centered from the Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) will do much the same thing, letting users track daily physical activity and providing tips to reduce stress and improve health.
However, not all of the apps are aimed at consumers, but rather at healthcare professionals. A new version of Doximity will offer Apple Watch-based messaging, wrist notifications for faxes, and actionable colleague invites. Mobile communications service Vocera will add the ability to view and respond to calls, alerts, and messages from other care team members. Drchrono, a similar platform, will soon be able to call up medical records on the Apple Watch.
If there’s a takeaway, here, it’s that companies are flocking to the Apple Watch in droves. Apple announced last week that more than 1,000 apps were already available for the venerable wearable, with many more on the way. Even so, the truth is that despite the range, none of the apps released thus far really solve the Apple Watch’s problem of dispensability. It’s still a luxury item, not a must-have gadget. However, the healthcare industry has a good a chance as anyone of changing that.