By Daniel Kivatinos
Today’s modern medical practice is moving from outdated software to using mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad to collaborate and manage patient data and other critical processes more efficiently. Practices are realizing the importance of investing in the latest technology and apps that can help them save time and better communicate with their patients.
Apple recently announced some new game-changing updates to its product lineup that will greatly impact the healthcare industry, especially physicians, nurses, and their staff during their day-to-day tasks. The announcement at WWDC20, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, included the new software iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, macOS Big Sur, and updates around privacy.
Here are some of the newest features coming to Apple devices that will benefit doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals:
Widgets in iOS 14 are now more flexible than ever. Physicians, staff, and patients can now drag a Widget out of their today view on the iPhone and drag the Widget to the home screen. With Smart Stack, widgets can change throughout the day on the home screen allowing physicians and staff to get real-time data about patients without having to look and launch an app.
For example, a Widget can give a count of how many patients are in a waiting room or how many prescriptions need to be refilled. Widgets can now change throughout the day to show relevant information over time. This is powerful for providers but also for patients who need constant reminders about taking medication. Every so often, glancing at an iPhone can show a Widget that can remind the patient to take their meds.
2Picture in Picture
Picture in Picture is new to the iPhone on iOS 14, it allows a provider to watch medical videos while multitasking. For example, a physician can watch videos about steps to take regarding a jaundice case, a diabetes case, or a physical therapy case, all while doing other work like charting in an Electronic Health Record (EHR) at the same time.
This feature is a big step forward in telemedicine because a physician can review patient information in the EHR iOS app while talking to the patient on a video call at the same time. Physicians while on a telehealth call, can now order a lab, prescribe medication, and chart while talking to a patient. Picture in Picture is game-changing to telemedicine because the provider can move easily between apps and the telehealth video will persist.
Siri is getting a major update. It’s now easier to open apps, request information (results pop up like a notification) and you can now send audio messages. Apple announced that they’re adding ‘run dictation,’ which supports languages. For example, physicians will be able to use speech recognition and run dictation on the device, ensuring better accuracy and privacy. Apple is announcing a new app called Translate, enabling voice and text to be converted in real-time and supports 11 languages that can translate on the device.
For example, if a patient comes into urgent care and the patient doesn’t speak the language as the urgent care team, this app can help translate critical information from the patient to the providers and staff. The Translate app can work completely offline and conversations can be kept private using advanced on-device machine learning. All of these updates will give physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals new ways to be more efficient especially for conversations.
Apple Pencil with iPadOS 14 is getting a refresh with Scribble. Handwritten text is now transcribed to text making handwriting as powerful as typed text. The text can also be cut and pasted in another app. Note-taking with the Apple Pencil is extremely popular on the iPad, especially while physicians are charting during a patient visit.
In addition to the new updates to text, converting simple drawings into more accurate shapes is now supported. The iPad, widely used among physicians and their staff, will have access to these new innovative features that can help them chart more efficiently.
Apple Watch has several new updates as well from watchOS 7. Sleep has a new wind-down sleep tracking feature. This is the kind of data that if shared with a provider can give insight to them about a patient’s health, Apple Watch uses machine learning to track sleep. Also, the Hand Washing feature is new with built-in machine learning that shows how long you have been washing your hands.
If hand washing is tracked over time, providers might be able to see future trends in COVID-19 and how it might spread. For everyone who is tracking their health data, the Activity app is also being renamed Fitness, which can now track even more activities like “Dance,” “Functional Strength Training” and “Cool Downs.”
Security with apps is paramount for healthcare professionals. iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 give more visibility, indicating recording via camera or microphone in the status bar. Each developer is required to self report their practices and this information will be on the product pages in the App Store.
Over the next few years, we will see dramatic advances in healthcare technology that will create a stronger connection between patients and their doctors. Apple’s technology is already having a great impact on healthcare because their devices combined with third-party apps are helping practices and hospitals in countless ways, such as track and store patient data in their electronic health records, communicate with patients, and capture images such as X-rays to name a few. As more physicians embrace Apple products and optimize practice efficiency on the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch, we will see better and faster patient care.
About the Author:
Daniel Kivatinos is the Co-founder and COO of DrChrono. DrChrono takes full advantage of the power of iOS and iPadOS to design all of its EHR and its latest telemedicine offerings to ensure a meaningful experience for physicians and patients.