News Feature | June 6, 2014

Apple (Finally) Unveils Mobile Health Platform

By Joel Lindsey

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After months of articles, leaked reports, and speculation regarding Apple's expected foray into mobile health, the company officially unveiled two new health-related apps, “HealthKit” and “Health,” at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference this week.

“Up to now, the information gathered by [health and fitness] applications lives in silos. You can’t get a single, comprehensive picture of your health situation,” Apple SVP Craig Federighi said in an article published by Forbes.

The HealthKit platform, described by Federighi as “a single place that applications can contribute to a composite profile of your activity and health,” sets out to solve this problem by serving as a data aggregator to better help users track basic health measurements. It can also share the data with healthcare providers.

“With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness,” said a press release published on Apple’s website. “For example, your blood pressure app could share its data with a physician app, such as the Mayo Clinic app, so your doctor can provide high-quality guidance and care.”

Along with HealthKit, Apple’s upcoming iOS 8 operating system will come with the Health application, which the company describes as having been designed to give users “an easy-to-read dashboard of [their] health and fitness data.”

While the company has not released a great deal of detail regarding either app, representatives did say that Apple might be working closely with other companies and healthcare providers to make the new apps as comprehensive and user-friendly as possible. In particular, an article published by Reuters reported that Apple has teamed up with Nike, who has become a significant player in the field of wearable fitness trackers, and the Mayo Clinic, who has reportedly designed an app that could link patients to their doctors via the HealthKit platform.

“The HealthKit has the most potential for the future,” Nils Kassube, development director for  German consulting firm Newscope, said in the article. “Those of us that are interested in health need a platform for sharing information.”

Apple’s announcements are the latest to make headlines in the rapidly growing, increasingly publicized, and highly competitive field of personal health devices and medical-related apps. Earlier this week, for example, Med Device Online published an article about Samsung’s new Simband device, a prototype smartwatch with biosensors and a cloud-based information storage platform. Apple and Google have indicated that they may also be developing similar devices.

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