Secure messaging on the Apple Watch as iPad targets the enterprise

Apple has shown off the healthcare capabilities of the new operating system for its Apple Watch, demonstrating a US-developed app called AirStrip that allows doctors to securely communicate patient data as well as remotely monitor vital signs, all on their wristwatch.

The company also demonstrated its new, larger iPad Pro that looks a good competitor at the enterprise level with Microsoft's Surface Pro. It comes complete with new technology that uses magnetic contacts to convey both power and data bidirectionally and allows peripheral devices such as its new keyboard to connect to the device without the need for Bluetooth or batteries.

The watchOS 2 allows apps to run natively on the device so apps can harness its hardware capabilities without it having to be tethered to an iPhone.

It also has a new feature called Time Travel that will allow doctors to see their patient list on the Watch and to scroll forward using its crown to see what is scheduled for the rest of the day.

Apple has worked with US secure messaging platform developer AirStrip to add its capabilities to the apps built for the Watch, including the ability to securely communicate patient data with other clinicians, to view vital signs and even to remotely monitor fetal heartbeats and the mother's contractions using its new AirSense Sense4Baby app.

AirStrip co-founder Cameron Powell said his platform can be used on the iPhone and the iPad as well as the Watch and demonstrated how an emergency department doctor could receive alerts.

A HIPAA-compliant message containing an alert can be sent by AirStrip to the Watch as well as live feeds of a patient's vitals signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. Their lab results can also be messaged, and the doctor can send a reply back with one tap.

Dr Powell said private patient data is secured because the Watch will authenticate the user as soon as they put it on until they take it off.

He said the AirStrip technology is already being used to monitor pregnant women in hospitals, but the company's new Sense4Baby app allows the doctor to monitor pregnant women at home.

The woman can run a non-stress test by placing sensors on her belly, which sends information on the fetal heart rate and the mother's contractions to the app on the watch. The watch itself is able to read and monitor the mother's heart rate.

“Finally, we can differentiate between the mother's heart rate and the baby's heart rate, which has been a problem for many years with home monitoring,” Dr Powell said. “While she's doing the test, she can listen to the baby's heart rate right on her wrist. Then when the test is done, she can simply send all of that data from her watch back to her doctor.”

The doctor can then send a secure message back to the patient advising her on whether to remain at home or prepare to come in to hospital, all using HIPAA-compliant secure messaging and all through a small device worn on the wrist.

“AirStrip, plus Apple Watch together, will redefine how messaging and communication occurs in healthcare,” Dr Powell said.

Apple also demonstrated the new iPad Pro, which features a large 12.9-inch Retina display and a new 64-bit A9X chip, which Apple says will rival most portable PCs.

Irene Walsh, head of design for start-up firm 3D4Medical, showed how her company's 3D medical images can be displayed and manipulated on the iPad using the swipe motion but also Apple's new Pencil precision input device. The app allows healthcare professionals to demonstrate procedures to patients and medical students to get a 3D grasp of human anatomy.

Apple Pencil also works with popular apps like Mail, Notes, Procreate and Office 365 for iPad.

Its new Smart Keyboard further extends the utility of iPad Pro, offering a full-sized keyboard in a durable design. The Smart Keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro’s new Smart Connector port, eliminating the need for a separate battery, on/off switch or Bluetooth pairing.

The Smart Keyboard is covered in custom woven fabric and features keys that provide the accuracy, stability and satisfying key feel of standard keyboards, but is also easily foldable and can transform into a Smart Cover.

The iPad Pro is due in Australia and New Zealand in November, although pricing has not been released.

The watchOS 2 update will be available for free on September 16.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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