Apple prepares for Healthkit rollout

Tuesday 12 August 2014 13.13
Apple's HealthKit is expected to be incorporated into the iPhone 6 next month
Apple's HealthKit is expected to be incorporated into the iPhone 6 next month

Apple has been discussing how its "HealthKit" service will work with health providers at Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins.

This is according to people familiar with the discussions in the US.

While the talks may not amount to anything concrete, they underscore how Apple is intent on making health data, such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, available for consumers and health providers to view in one place.

Currently, this data is being collected by thousands of third-party health care software applications and medical devices, but it is not centrally stored.

Apple also hopes doctors will use this data to better monitor patients between visits - with the patient's consent - so the doctors can make better diagnostic and treatment decisions. 

Apple has not divulged much specific detail on HealthKit, which is expected to be incorporated into the iPhone 6 in September.

But it intends HealthKit to become a lynchpin in a broader push into mobile healthcare - a fertile field that rivals Google and Samsung are also exploring. 

The iPhone maker has previously disclosed partnerships with Nike, Epic, and the prestigious Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic, which boasts a suite of mobile apps. 

Mayo is reportedly testing a service to flag patients when results from apps and devices are abnormal, with follow-up information and treatment recommendations. Apple declined to comment on upcoming partnerships for HealthKit. 

Cleveland Clinic said the clinical solutions team was experimenting with HealthKit's beta and is providing feedback to Apple. 

HealthKit and related services could become a means for some technology teams at budget-strapped hospitals to save time and resources ,as mobile developers will not have to integrate with dozens of apps and devices like fitness trackers or Glucometers as they have to now. 

Health developers say Apple will not be immune to thehallenges they have faced for many years, starting withafeguarding consumer privacy. 

And along with physicians and consumers, Apple will have to juggle the requirements of regulators at federal agencies or departments. 

HealthKit relies on the ability of users to share data. But depending on how that data is used, its partners - and potentially even Apple - may be subject to the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.  

HIPAA protects personally-identifiable health information - such as a medical report or hospital bill - stored or transmitted by a "covered entity," like a care provider or health plan. 

Patient-generated information from a mobile app, for instance, has to be protected once the data is given to a covered entity or its agent.

Keywords: apple, healthkit