eWEEK, like other news sites, has been reporting since last year on Apple's plans to enter the health care field. These stories have ranged from Apple taking a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reports of its new hires—who are a phenomenally talented group of doctors and researchers and engineers with, to their credit, such inventions as a kid's tattoo that can monitor kidney function; an FDA-regulated "Band-Aid" that can monitor heart rate, temperature, respiration and more; and a five-minute test that now saves dozens if not hundreds of newborns' lives each year.
Apple's interest in health care is unquestioned, but what it intends to do is not fully known. At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) June 2, it tipped its hand for the first time and introduced two apps that will arrive with iOS 8 in the fall.
But until iOS 8 arrives, on whatever devices Apple has planned (an iWatch with health-monitoring capabilities is a popular guess), we'll have to continue to speculate and keep poring over the little that Craig Federighi, Apple's software chief, said.
What he gave us to work with is actually less than 400 words:
"Developers have created a vast array of health care devices and accompanying applications, everything from monitoring your activity level to your heart rate to your weight—and even chronic medical conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes. But up 'til now, the information gathered by those applications lives in silos. You can't get a single, comprehensive picture of your health situation. But now you can, with HealthKit.
HealthKit provides a single place that applications can contribute to a composite profile of your activity and health.
And, HealthKit comes with a corresponding application, Health. With Health, you can monitor all of your metrics that you're most interested in. But not just that, you can use third-party applications. Now, we carefully protect your privacy, so you have total control over which applications have access to which part of your health care information. But you can, for instance, provide different information, such as activity, weight, heart rate information to the Nike app. Nike is working to integrate HealthKit, so they use that information to help you in your pursuit of your personalized fitness goals.
We're also working with the Mayo Clinic—innovators in health care. With their integration with HealthKit, they're going to be able, say when a patient takes a blood pressure reading, HealthKit automatically notifies their app, and their app is automatically able to check whether that reading is within that patient's personalized care parameters and threshold. And if not, it can contact the hospital proactively, notify a doctor, and that doctor can reach back to that patient, providing more timely care.
Now, we think this is going to be really important for health, and the CEO of the Mayo Clinic agrees. He 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.' We agree.
We're also working with leaders in health care applications like Epic Systems. Now, they provide the technology that enables hospitals serving over 100 million Americans. Now with their integration with HealthKit, patients at these leading institutions will be able to get closer in sharing their information with their doctors.
And that is Health."