Apple's Influence in Healthcare

By Anna Kleiner | 10/04/2016
Just 10 years ago Apple changed the game on cell phones with the introductions of the iPhone. Prior to Apple’s influence, flip phones ruled the day, and tablets were a strange tool used by art majors and architects. Laptops were considered cutting-edge—and not everyone had one. Many people didn’t even have a cell phone, let alone a smart phone.

Just a year later, the introduction of a small glass-screened device would change everything, completely revolutionizing how we use and live with technology. With the iPhone’s 10th anniversary coming up next year, let’s look at some of the ways Apple devices have impacted health care.


Health tracking is one of the first things to come to mind when we think of “iPhone” and “health”—and for good reason. There are dozens of health apps available on the App Store, covering things from weight loss to nutrition to fitness to stress management. With these apps, your iPhone can count your steps, record your sleep, and track your mood. It can remind you to drink water and take your medications and eat your vegetables. Apple even has its own health app now that comes pre-installed in every iPhone device.

The iPhone can be used for more than just health tracking, however. Companies like Voalte are using the iPhone as a platform to share secure clinical communications and workflows between clinicians at the same hospital or clinic. Nurses can use it to set up notifications and alerts when a patient needs assistance or attention. The iPhone and its apps have improved communication for hospital personnel—from doctor to front desk to administration—to get the information they need every day right when they need it.


The iPad was released just six years ago, but in that time, it’s made huge changes in healthcare delivery. In hospitals and clinics across the nation, iPads have replaced traditional patient charts. For many providers, their portability and light weight have made them the preferred device for electronic health record (EHR). Clinicians can access all of their patient records through a single device, eliminating the need for multiple files and papers. Since the iPad was released, a variety of EHR software and apps have been developed exclusively for iPad.

On the patient side, clinicians have found success in using iPads to prepare patients—especially children—for surgery. It can be hard for kids to know what to expect from surgery, and hard for clinicians and parents to explain what happens in a way that they’ll understand. But not if they use an iPad first. A recent study from the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists examined children who were given a conventional sedative before surgery and children who were given an iPad to play age-appropriate games for a few minutes before surgery. Playing iPad games was found to be just as effective in calming children before surgery as sedating them—and parents were more satisfied when their children were calmed with a game, rather than sedated.

Apple Watch

Just three years ago, Apple took the same technology behind its iPhone and infiltrated the watch market with the introduction of the Apple Watch. Given that the device sits on the wrist, it offers more advanced health measurements through the skin contact. Users can get immediate stats on heart rate, activity levels, calories burned, steps tracked, and a report on their overall health. The Apple Watch also has its own list of apps available, including one that allows diabetes patients to monitor their heart rate for the potential in insulin spikes.