Parents could soon be using their iPhones to monitor a child's blood glucose levels throughout the day, whether that child is at school or at the beach. Of course, there are already dozens of iPhone apps available for tracking exercise, diet, and blood pressure—things where you type in the information yourself. But this new tool, unveiled yesterday by LifeScan Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., would be the first to monitor health information remotely, then share it with family members or doctors.
The prototype diabetes tracker was unveiled at the debut of the iPhone's new operating system in Cupertino, Calif. Anita Mathew, LifeScan's manager for alliances and corporate development, showed how a child at school could use the iPhone app to download a glucose reading from her monitor, calculate how much insulin she would need based on lunch and swim practice, and then send that information to Mom and Dad. "There's the potential to even share with the diabetes community," says Dave Detmers, director of communication for LifeScan. In other words, parents or kids could compare glucose control strategies, and trade tips, congratulate, or commiserate. This remote tracking app won't be on the market anytime soon, however. Because it is a medical device, it will need approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
More mobile medical tools are on the way. A blood-pressure monitor app tool that would connect the iPhone to a blood-pressure cuff is in the works, Apple executives said yesterday. The data could be forwarded to family members ("Mom, did you take your blood pressure medicine today? Your systolic's a bit high") or to a doctor, in a much simpler and cheaper way than the many remote home monitoring systems proposed over the years.
If the iPhone remote health apps take off, expect them to be offered for the Apple product's many challengers as well.
Here's the lowdown on 5 good health apps for the iPhone, reviewed by my colleague Matthew Shulman. Quitter, which tracks how long a smoker has been cigarette free, is particularly wonderful. It flashes a big "congratulations!" every time the app is opened. U.S. News also has an interactive table that makes it easy to compare the iPhone with its rivals.