Apple has made their long awaited plunge into digital health with HealthKit, an iOS 8 bundled app which was unveiled at the World Wide Developer Conference of 2014. HealthKit is designed to help users keep better track of their personal and fitness data. HealthKit provides a single place to store and profile health data across multiple applications and devices. iPhone and iPad owners can now monitor their health metrics on a granular level, and the platform also allows them to chart health fluctuations and patterns over time.
Mayo Clinic’s integration with HealthKit will allow clinicians to remotely monitor patients who are taking diagnostic readings with their iPhone or iPad. For example, if a patient takes a blood pressure reading, HealthKit automatically notifies the relevant app, and the app will check to see if that reading is within that patient’s personalized healthcare parameters—if not the app can contact the hospital proactively, and notify a doctor, allowing the healthcare provider to reach out to the patient and provide a higher quality of care.
Apple’s SVP Craig Federighi described the advantages of the HealthKit platform over the current situation, which has health information spread across multiple silos in various apps. Creating an Apple engineered health software is a big step for the company. Until now, Apple simply provided the platform (iOS) enabling third-party apps from companies such as Jawbone, FitBit, TrainingPeaks, Nike, and RunKeeper. With HealthKit offering heavy integration into the health wearables market, this would seem like a great platform to work with an iWatch (should Apple ever get around to releasing one).
I think that having Apple join the digital health space will provide a great push towards improved usability and interfaces, particularly in mobile. So many companies tend to “borrow” from Apple, and just having their products in the digital health space will provide a collective kick in the butt to the rest of the industry. This will also provide a great boost to interoperability as the iOS marketplace provides a great convergence point for multiple types of data from disparate platforms to connect.
It would be great to hear responses from healthcare practitioners on Apple’s foray into the digital health space. Apple software, such as iOS and iTunes, is frequently cited by AmericanEHR members as the golden standard for usability and workflow efficiency.
To learn more about iOS 8 and HealthKit, visit Apple’s website.