iPhone 6: Leaked Details About Apple’s HealthKit Rollout
Apple is expected to unveil its iPhone 6 and iOS 8 in less than a month, and more details about the signature health care software—Apple’s new HealthKit—are beginning to leak.
For example, Mayo Clinic is testing a service to alert patients when their Apple apps detect abnormal health results, and help schedule them for follow-up visits, Christina Farr reports for Reuters.
And major health systems like Cleveland Clinic and Kaiser Permanente are currently testing apps in the HealthKit beta, too. (Kaiser also reportedly wants to strike a partnership with Apple.)
When Apple announced its big push into health care this summer, industry watchers expected that this kind of innovation—and these name-brand partnerships—would quickly follow.
And HealthKit, which is a new developer framework that Apple has created for iOS 8, is a “lynchpin” of Apple’s strategy, Farr reports. The software is being positioned as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to take advantage of sensors in the iPhone 6 and the company’s anticipated “iWatch,” which is likely to be unveiled this fall, too.
Apple is counting on HealthKit to help it grab a major foothold in the $9 billion-plus mobile health care market — a business opportunity that company leaders think they have a “moral obligation” to pursue.
Perhaps the most important details in Farr’s report are related to Apple’s plan to sync its apps with providers’ electronic health care records: Apple is telling health systems that HealthKit will soon automatically integrate its data with MyChart, Epic’s personal health record portal that’s used by millions of patients.
If it works, that could be transformative for mobile health strategy. The Apple-Epic partnership, which also was announced this summer, brought together two titans in different industries: Epic already commands more than 40% of the hospital EHR market, and Apple’s iPhones are roughly as ubiquitous in the mobile phone market.
And as Modern Healthcare‘s Darius Tahir has observed, bringing together two market movers could set Apple’s strategy apart from previous, failed attempts to capture health care data, centralize it, and share it with providers.
Specifically, if Apple can solve the “data collection problem“—if HealthKit, Epic, and an iWatch sensor can seamlessly integrate—the mobile health market would be dramatically changed, and Apple likely ends up as a hub for health care data.
(And Apple may not be boxing itself in to a partnership with Epic, either: The company is reportedly in talks with Allscripts, one of Epic’s chief competitors.)
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But Farr hints that Apple’s rollout of HealthKit might be a little more bumpy than some of the company’s other product launches.
“Everybody is knocking on the door,” said Morgan Reed, who leads a lobbying organization for mobile health developers called ACT. “But I doubt that HealthKit will merge with all the existing systems.”
And importantly, any health care-oriented deal opens Apple up to health care’s complex regulatory environment.
- Partnering with Nike to collect running data doesn’t mean Apple needs to abide by HIPAA rules, a former top official at HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT tells Farr.
- But an arrangement where Apple is storing clinical information on behalf of hospitals does, and that raises new challenges for the company, perhaps on a partnership-by-partnership basis.
Meanwhile, another Apple alliance—the company’s recent deal with its former archrival IBM—could lead to an influx of health care mobile apps. That’s according to my colleague Meg Aranow, who helps lead the Advisory Board’s research into health IT and wrote on this a few weeks ago.
“The announcement indicates that IBM will develop more than 100 applications for iPad and iPhone,” Aranow suggested. “This bodes well for health care, as it’s one of several vertical markets the partnership is targeting for ‘industry-specific solutions.’”