At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple Inc.'s Senior Vice President Craig Federighi introduced the mHealth platform HealthKit, which will be available for iOS 8 later this year. During his keynote, he disclosed that HealthKit would be paired with the products and services of Mayo Clinic and Epic Systems Corp.
This marks an important step for Apple in entering a market that is already flooded with a number of poorly adopted mHealth products. Most mHealth platforms have focused on few areas or data points to track. In an attempt to offer a more appealing product to consumers, HealthKit will give mobile device users a common interface that will enable them to access and share their personal health records.
During his keynote, Federighi described the collaboration between Apple and Mayo Clinic. He went into detail about how HealthKit leverages some of the patient education research done by the Mayo Clinic, allowing Apple to offer a tool that is tailored to patients' needs. Mayo Clinic President and CEO John H. Noseworthy, M.D., said: "We believe Apple's HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people. We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app."
The apps available on the HealthKit application programming interface were built so medical device manufacturers will have the ability to integrate with the Apple Health app and reach a wider consumer base. The Apple Health app will also be able to post some of the health information it collects to Epic's EHR systems and utilize some of the tools at Epic's disposal. This could proactively address any concerns or irregularities in the recorded health data. This tight integration is a clear indicator that Apple views Epic as a leader within the healthcare and EHR space, and that it can provide them with a large enough patient base to successfully launch its product.
Apple already has the business of a wide section of mobile users. According to an IDC report, Apple shipped 153.4 million smartphones in 2013.
Apple is not the first device manufacturer to offer native support for a health app. Recently, Samsung released its own health app, called S Health, which allows mobile device users to leverage the Android platform for fitness and health tracking. Samsung's total shipment volume for 2013 exceeded that of Apple, coming in at 313.9 million smartphones.
One significant differentiator that will likely play to Apple's advantage is their agreement with Epic. Apple hopes that selecting Epic as a partner will give them a large built-in user base. They are also betting that their platform's integration with Epic will make it easy to use, and will encourage physicians and patients to use it for personal tracking and health information exchange.
About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development at Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email [email protected] or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.