could team up with leading insurers
on its iOS 8 HealthKit platform soon, according to a recent
report from Bloomberg. HealthKit -- which was
at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June -- is a
platform that synchronizes various iOS apps, wearables, and
medical devices to a single dashboard app.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
These partnerships wouldn't be surprising, considering the
recent progress made by Humana and UnitedHealth in mobile apps.
Humana's mobile fitness app, HumanaVitality, connects to several
activity and biometric-tracking devices from Fitbit,
.UnitedHealth's Health4Me app also includes activity and
biometric tracking. However, these features would be rendered
redundant when HealthKit arrives, since users wouldn't need two
dashboards for the same purpose.
More important, HealthKit data could be provided to insurers
and employers, which could offer employees insurance discounts
for meeting certain fitness goals. Under the Affordable Care Act,
employers can spend up to 30% of their yearly insurance premiums
on "healthy behavior" awards.
While these partnerships would simplify app development for
insurers, provide employers with better data, and strengthen
Apple's HealthKit platform, there's much more going on when we
connect them to Apple's other healthcare alliances.
A unified mobile platform for the healthcare industry
In June, Apple announced HealthKit integration with electronic
health records, or EHR, giant Epic Systems and Mayo Clinic. Epic
Systems reaches over half of all patients in the U.S., and Mayo
Clinic is one of the largest integrated nonprofit medical group
practices in the world.
With that expansive reach, Apple can synchronize data from
fitness apps and activity trackers with the iOS Health app and
Epic's EHR. This means that whatever you see on your iPhone's
screen could also be sent to your doctor. Recent rumors -- which
suggest that Apple is looking to work with
, John Hopkins, Mt. Sinai, and the Cleveland Clinic -- indicate
the tech giant wants to tether even more partners to the
Apple's iOS 8 Health app. Source: Apple.
Insurers would benefit from linking with HealthKit, since it
can accomplish the same goal as their mobile apps -- to convince
people to take better care of themselves.
Healthier patients visit hospitals less frequently, which
would mean lower insurance payments. However, that doesn't mean
insurance companies would completely dump
their mobile apps
-- they would instead likely eliminate fitness tracking features
while retaining features such as account information, ID cards,
telehealth consultations, and drug costs.
Going beyond Google
Apple has certainly lagged behind
in cloud-based initiatives like Maps and Drive, but healthcare is
one battlefield where it could soundly defeat its rival.
Google once sought to unite the fragmented world of EHRs with
Google Health, which tried to pull all of a patient's electronic
health records into a single personal record. But Google canceled
Health in 2011 after it failed to gain enough industry support
and public awareness. Google's recently introduced HealthKit
, only synchronizes fitness apps and wearables to a single
dashboard, without EHR or insurer connections.
Apple is counting on several factors to help HealthKit succeed
where Google Health failed:
The iPhone's 41.9% market share in the U.S. (comScore)
The popularity of iOS in hospitals -- 52% of physicians
surveyed by Manhattan Research in 2012 owned an iPhone, while
45% owned an iPad.
it is easier to develop medical apps for iOS, since Apple
hardware and software is not as fragmented as Android's.
The relaxation of bring your own device policies in
The growth of the wearables market -- research firm ON
World projects that 330 million smartwatches will be shipped
by 2018, up from 4 million last year.
When we combine all these factors, we see a perfect chance for
Apple to launch HealthKit as the common thread that ties them all
A Foolish final word
Apple has attracted plenty of big players -- EHR companies,
hospitals, and possibly insurers -- to its HealthKit platform.
The company is truly taking mobile health to the next level, and
not even Google or Microsoft can offer anything close.
Looking ahead, there are still unanswered questions. Will the
be connected to HealthKit? Will HIPAA regulations and privacy
concerns dampen enthusiasm among consumers?Those questions could
be answered when iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 finally arrive , so stay
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Will Apple Beat Google in Healthcare with iOS
originally appeared on Fool.com.
owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A
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