updated 09:57 am EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Partnerships still being sorted out ahead of iOS 8, iWatch, new iPhones
Apple has been discussing how its HealthKit platform will work with major medical institutions including Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, and Allscripts, sources tell Reuters. Allscripts is an electronic records provider competing with Epic Systems. Reuters claims that the talks "may not amount to anything concrete," but that they reflect Apple's desire to make sure HealthKit data is visible in a central location for both healthcare providers and iOS device users.
When it revealed HealthKit, Apple announced partnerships with firms like Epic, Nike, and the Mayo Clinic. Mayo is said to be testing a service that will flag patients when apps and devices send abnormal data, and provide follow-up information and treatment suggestions. Epic is reportedly planning to allow HealthKit integration into its MyChart system. Sources say that another firm, major HMO Kaiser Permanente, is piloting several mobile apps that exploit HealthKit, and that it will probably talk to Apple about a formal deal.
While most of the parties involved have declined to confirm or deny plans, Cleveland Clinic's associate CIO, William Morris, acknowledges that his firm is experimenting with HealthKit and offering feedback to Apple. He argues that by standardizing app and accessory support, hospitals may be able to save time and resources, since there won't be a need to integrate separately with dozens of different products.
To work through privacy regulation issues surrounding the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Apple has reportedly hired and/or consulted experts and attorneys. Although HealthKit data will be encrypted in storage and in transit, and only sent with consent, the company must ensure its system meets HIPAA standards to avoid legal action.
The public will only get its hands on HealthKit next month, when Apple is expected to release iOS 8 alongside new iPhones. Sometime this fall the company should launch the iWatch, which will have a number of health and fitness sensors that HealthKit was likely created to support.