Apple's New Health Features

apple, apple watch, airstrip
(Image credit: Screengrab by Sara G. Miller for Live Science)

Apple revealed two new apps today that are aimed at improving people's health: one that could connect doctors with patients, and another that shows highly detailed images of human anatomy.

The AirStrip app is already used by doctors on iPhones and iPads, but speaking onstage today in San Francisco, Dr. Cameron Powell, the co-founder of AirStrip, called the new Apple Watch version of the app a "game changer for healthcare."

AirStrip for Apple Watch will allow doctors to view their appointment schedules on their wrists and get information about their patients' diagnoses. Other healthcare workers will be able to send alerts directly to doctors' Apple Watches, for example, giving them a patient's vital signs and lab results in real time.

Doctors will also be able to send messages to other doctors on a patient's care team and order tests while still meeting the standards required by patient privacy laws.

(Image credit: Screengrab by Sara G. Miller for Live Science)

Powell also said the AirStrip app "will change how doctors communicate with their patients." For example, AirStrip is currently used to monitor pregnant women in the hospital, but with an Apple Watch and a monitoring system called Sense4Baby, doctors will be able to monitor pregnant patients who are still at home, observing the heart rates of both the mother and the fetus (using additional sensors placed on the belly), as well as a woman's contractions.

Pregnant women will be able to use the app to listen to their baby's heart rates on Apple Watch.

The other app, called 3D4Medical's Complete Anatomy Series, will be available on the new iPad Pro tablet.  Irene Walsh, the head of design for 3D4Medical, demonstrated the app today, and said it displays human anatomy at a new level of medical accuracy, allowing doctors to show patients exactly what's going on inside their bodies.

During the demo, images from the app showed the intricate details of how muscles connect to the skeleton, and animated the images in real time to show what happens when a person moves.

Moreover, using another new device called the Apple Pencil, doctors can create custom illustrations of patients' injuries that patients will be able to view on their iPads. Walsh demonstrated how the app could be used to illustrate a patient's torn meniscus, or show the effects of arthritis on the bones of the knee.

Walsh also pointed out that the Complete Anatomy Series app will benefit medical students, who will be able to use the Apple Pencil to cut and draw on the images, as well as simulate surgical procedures. 

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Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.