Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Watch: 5 Second Rule

For the better part of the last two years, I have written and spoken about the Apple Watch and the related HealthKit ecosystem. A little over a month ago, in what might be best described as an overwhelming desire to “walk the talk” (or, perhaps, to put my money where my mouth is), I purchased an Apple Watch. While it is still, in many ways, an expensive tech gadget that suffers from the limitations inherent in any first-generation device, the Apple Watch offers a compelling glimpse of a future in which computers are worn as well as carried.

Check out the remainder of this article here.



Apple Watch: Transformative Technology or Passing Fad?

The following article recently appeared in Healthcare Information Management & Communications Canada, the journal of COACH, the association for Canadian health informatics professionals:

Earlier this spring (though it was to tell from the snow still on the ground) I had dinner with several stakeholders from a project on which I am currently working. One of my dining companions, it turns out, reads my columns and blog posts.

“So, what new gadget are you planning to buy next?”, he asked between the appetizers and the main course.

“The Apple Watch,” I replied without hesitation.

My dining companions did not share my enthusiasm for Apple’s latest product. Indeed, I am, at least among my friends and family, the only person with any interest in the Apple Watch.

The results of my informal poll are consistent with the results of a recent Reuters/Ipsos survey that found only 6% of U.S. adults plan to buy an Apple Watch. This same survey revealed that an additional 18% of respondents were “very” or “somewhat” interested in buying an Apple Watch while just over three quarters (76%) expressed no interest at all.

In the Reuters article in which the survey results were published, Van Baker, an analyst with information technology research and advisory firm Gartner, notes that “many potential buyers will end up holding off until the second version of the watch, likely to appear next year.”

Among my circle of friends and professional acquaintances, price and questionable value proposition were cited as major reasons for not considering purchase of an Apple Watch.

Steve Ranger, the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, notes in a recent ZDnet article that many of these same people who see little value in the Apple Watch also stated five years ago that “they would never buy a smartphone” for similar reasons. They are, he sarcastically quips, “the spiritual descendants of the people who thought the world would only ever need five computers.”

Mr. Ranger suggests that “just as the smartphone created new needs and fulfilled them, so will smartwatches.” They are not, he contends “just a smartphone shrunk down and strapped to your wrist” but “something new and different.”

So, what is the Apple Watch’s raison d’être? According to a Wired article entitled “iPhone Killer: The secret history of the Apple Watch”, smartphone users “are subject to the tyranny of the buzz – the constant checking, the long list of nagging notifications.” Kevin Lynch, Apple’s Vice-President of Technology, states in this article that the Apple Watch is intended to provide this level of engagement in “a way that’s a little more human, a little more in the moment when you’re with somebody.”

Technology columnist Farhood Manjoo offers a similar perspective in a New York Times article in which he reviews his recently acquired Apple Watch. “By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch became something like a natural extension of my body – a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.”

After using the Apple Watch for a week, Mr. Manjoo notes that it has the potential to “address some of the social angst wrought by smartphones.” He predicts that the Apple Watch “could usher in the transformation of social norms just as profound as those we saw with its brother, the smartphone, except, amazingly, in reverse.”

A key ingredient in the transformative potential of the Apple Watch is the manner in which Apple’s Watch interacts with the wearer. While most computers to date, including smartphones, rely primarily on two senses – sight and sound – to convey information, Apple created what it calls a “taptic engine” for the Apple Watch to deliver physical sensations to the wearer’s wrist.

Haptics, the underlying technology on which Apple’s taptic engine is based, have seen limited use in consumer devices, mainly video game controllers. Brian Hall, a writer specializing in technology and culture, offers a succinct summary of haptic technology in a recent Macworld article:

Haptic technology—haptics—uses force upon the skin to deliver real-time tactile feedback. These physical sensations are created by tiny motors called actuators. Done right, haptics can mimic the feeling of a pin prick by a wearable that tracks your blood sugar, simulate the plucking of virtual guitar strings on a tablet screen, or re-create the physical recoil of a phaser from your favorite game controller.

In this same article, Mr. Hall suggests that haptics “may prove most useful, possibly revolutionary”. He contends that Apple, “with surprisingly little fanfare” has “embraced a new user interface” based on touch.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the potential of haptics, particularly as a notification technology. Fellow Canadian blogger Tim Wilson states in a recent blog post that “the Apple Watch sounds more like invasive nag” than a useful tool and seriously questions whether it is the “game-changer” that many people contend it will be.

Technology columnist Farhood Manjoo suggests that the Apple Watch, unlike the iPod or the iPhone, is not “suited for tech novices.” Instead, he suggests that “it is designed for people who are inundated with notifications coming in through their phones, and for those who care to think about, and want to try to manage, the way the digital world intrudes on their lives.”

Will I buy an Apple Watch? Yes, I have the same feeling about the Apple Watch as I did about the iPad when it was first announced. I think the Apple Watch is one of those devices that once you use it and integrate it into your daily activities, you will wonder how you did without it.

Are you considering purchase of an Apple Watch? Do you think that the Apple Watch is a transformative technology or a passing fad? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment


The rise of digital health platforms

Apple has gained a well-deserved reputation for disrupting industries. Witness the impact of the iPod on the music industry, the iPhone on the cellphone industry, and the iPad on the computer industry. Apple’s announcement this past June that iOS 8 (the next release of its mobile operating system) will include tools to manage personal health information has many analysts, journalists, and other pundits debating whether the company can have the same disruptive impact on the health sector that it has had other industries.

You can check out the remainder of this article at Technology for Doctors


Can Apple possibly transform healthcare?

As I take my weekly train trek home to Ottawa, I can’t help but notice that early everyone in my car is using a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone (and, in some cases, several of these devices at the same time.) While their activities vary, many are unwinding after a long day by watching a movie or a TV show (the lady next to me is catching up on past episodes of Grey’s Anatomy), reading a book, or listening to music. Each of these industries has been transformed, in some cases quite radically, by Apple. Can Apple do the same for healthcare?

See the remainder of this article at Technology for Doctors


Physicians are leading users of mobile technology

Despite attempts by some to portray physicians as luddites unwilling to use IT in the practice of medicine, a recent survey by QuantiaMD offers some hard data to refute this belief. QuanitaMD is an online physician-to-physician learning collaborative where, according to the company, 1 in 6 U.S. physicians engage, share, and learn from experts and each other.

According to the recently conducted QuantiaMD survey, more than 80% of physicians responding to the survey indicated that they own a mobile device that is capable of downloading applications (including but not limited to smartphones and tablets). This level of adoption is higher than the general population and demonstrates, in my view, a clear physician willingness to use technology when it fits into their workflow (which is highly mobile). Interesting findings from the survey include:

  • 44% of physicians who do not yet have a mobile device intend to purchase one in 2011.
  • 30% of physicians surveyed indicated that they use a tablet device. Interestingly, 2/3’s of these tablet users employ their tablet in a clinical setting.
  • Despite claims that younger doctors are more apt to embrace new technologies than older physicians, the QuanitaMD study shows that interest in tablets holds steady across years of practice and is, according to the survey report, “as high for physicians with 30 years or more of practice as it is for those with 10 years or less”.
  • Approximately 2/3’s of survey respondent state they are likely to select an Apple product. 60% of smartphone users indicate that they have an iPhone while nearly all tablet users have an iPad.

How do physician want to use their mobile? According to the QuanitaMD survey, their top interest is access to EMR data. Other desired uses devices for “peer to peer activities” include receiving treatment protocols alerts, and sharing and discussing cases with other physicians. Desired activities that involve patients include e-prescribing, sharing patient education materials, and receiving alerts when patients need follow-up treatment.

A close to home example of how mobile technology can be used for patient care is the Ottawa Hospital’s massive rollout of iPads and other Apple mobile devices. According to recent articles and anecdotal feedback from sources at the Ottawa Hospitals, the clinical community is enthusiastically embracing these new devices.


The EMR/EHR Application Store

Mark and I have watched Apple and other mobile vendors create and support developer ecosystems with open APIs (application program interfaces) and application stores and have mused that a similar approach would be of considerable benefit in the health sector.  Well, it seems that Allscripts listened to us! Well, OK, they probably don’t know who we are but, watching the mobile application market, reached a similar conclusion.

According to information posted on the Allscripts web site, the Allscripts Developer Program (ADP) will “provide registered, approved members of our Allscripts Developer Program software development kits to enable clients and third parties to natively write applications on the Helios by Allscripts™ platform and integrate with other Allscripts applications.”  Helios is “an industry-defining open architecture platform that is designed to allow healthcare organizations to utilize best-of-breed applications in an integrated environment with Sunrise enterprise solutions.

Rather than depend on its own R&D team to conceive and develop every possible application that their clients might need, Allscripts will leverage the resources (both financial and human) of its partners to accelerate innovation and better serve its clients.  Mark and I believe that a similar approach could accelerate “meaningful use” of EMRs by Canadian physicians by encouraging the development of new and interesting applications that make creative use of data stored in an EMR.


Consider HTML5 for Your Mobile Applications

I am a client of Appletree Medical Group in Ottawa.   They are an innovative company that continually pushes the boundaries of service and technology.  Appletree developed its own EMR and is continually refining the product using their own medical practice has a proving ground.  They have also  introduced a variety of on-line services including a wait list application that allows patients to check the current wait times in Appletree’s many walk-in clinic facilities.

Recently, Appletree announced an iPhone application that offers many of the same services as their online presence.  Fortunately, I am an iPhone user, so the app is of use to me .  What about those people with a Android phone or a Blackberry? What happens when Microsoft Phone 7 becomes more popular?  This dilemma is faced by any healthcare organization considering a mobile application.  Which platform(s) should they support?

Rather than develop for a specific mobile platform, I have been pushing my clients to consider HTML5 as an alternative.  HTML5 offers many of the same benefits as a mobile application written for a specific platform without having to commit to a specific platform. Unlike earlier versions of HTML, HTML5 allows developers to write applications that reside on a mobile device and that can store data locally on that device.

In a recent blog post, Richard MacManus predicts that “In 2011, this technology will probably go mainstream as full browser support becomes available in about the middle of the year.”   With support from companies such as Google, RIM, and Apple, I share Mr. MacManus’ enthusiasm and encourage anyone considering a mobile application to check it out.


The Appletree WAIT TIMER iPhone App Now Available – Free Download

Thank you for your interest in using our upcoming Appletree SmartChart  – a safe and secure way for you to update and access your health records and related appointment information from anywhere, at any time.

We are excited to report that the number of patients who requested SmartChart was much higher than we originally anticipated. We wanted you to be the first to know that we are in the final stages of releasing the full online SmartChart system.

SmartChart will have several components that will allow you to adapt the way you interact with our system to match your medical and lifestyle needs. In approximately 6-8 weeks, you will receive an email with information on how to sign up and how to make the best use of this tool to take better control over your health care.

Meanwhile, the first mobile component of SmartChart was just released and we want you to be the first to try it!

We are thrilled to announce that the Appletree WAIT TIMER iPhone App is now available to download for free. It is designed to provide direct access to our WAIT TIMER tool, city-wide locations and directions. Others coming soon for Blackberry and Android smart phones!

This enables your mobile phone to become one of your mobile access points to our other online patient services as they are released.

When you need to see a doctor, you can now check our wait times from anywhere with your iPhone.

Take a moment now to download the Appletree WAIT TIMER iPhone App by searching for “Appletree Medical Group” in your iPhone App store or by clicking on the link below:

Reflections on the iPad

I have been eagerly following the discussion leading up to and following the iPad annoucement.  I have envisioned just such a device since held my first iPOD Touch (since replaced by an iPhone).  At the time I thought “great device but Iwish that it had a larger screen”.

I think that the iPad is a new category of device meant for people who already have a computer (either desktop or laptop) and a mobile device (smartphone or otherwise) and is looking for a lightweight device for basic functions (email, web browsing, light work processing). The iPad will be what netbook tried to be … an inexpensive, lightweight, light duty computer. It will NOT replace either an iPhone or a laptop and, hence, doesn’t need some of the same functionality.

My plan is to buy a Wi-Fi only iPad and tether to my iPhone when not in Wi-Fi range. I think that Apple will need to think about better integration between iPhone and iPad. I will always carry my iPhone but won’t always take my iPad. Hence, some means of easily sharing data and connections is required.


Apple’s iSlate – I can’t wait!

The speculation has been building for months about Apple’s impending announcement of a new tablet computer.  Well, the day has arrived when we are expected to hear all the juicy details.   How Apple can generate such free media attention is absolutely astounding!

Ever since I got my iPod Touch (since replaced by my iPhone), I have longed for a larger form factor iPod Touch like device.  The power and simplicity of the iPhone OS and multitouch simply blew me away.  Unless there is something about the new device that really turns me off, you can expect that I’ll be in line to buy one of the new devices.

What does my personal desire for an iSlate have to do with eHealth?  I believe that Apple is going to create a new class of mobile devices that will do well in the health sector.  Given the inherent mobility of most healthcare professionals, I think that this new class of mobile device with its larger screen and light weight will be better suited for many healthcare applications than either a smartphone or a laptop.

I’ll be watching the blogosphere for any and all information related to Apple’s announcement today.   Geez, guess I have turned into a Jobs fan boy 🙂


Apple targeting healthcare with new “iSlate”

I have been following the Apple “iSlate” rumours with considerable interest.  Ever since I received my first iPod Touch (since replaced with an iPhone) a little over a year ago, I have longed for a similar device with a larger screen.  A long time laptop user (got my first one in 1989), I have always wanted a device about the size of a piece of paper and the thickness of magazine.  Well, it seems that the day is soon going to arrive.

Interestingly, the first users of the new “iSlate” are likely physicians.  According to a FierceMobileHhealthcare article:


Apple has been sending prototypes to doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  Given the strong appeal of the iPhone among physicians and the similarity in form factor to the tradition medical chart, the choice of healthcare as a target market for this new device isn’t surprising.

I think that the new category of “slate” computers (I use this term to distinguish them from the tablet computers already on the market) will be a huge hit.  The Apple iPhone / iPod Touch has demonstrated market interest in a lightweight,  touchscreen Internet device.  The major limitation of this device, in my view, is screen size and the new “slate” category will address this weakness.