Apple has announced HealthKit, their new platform for the consumer healthcare market, coming with iOS 8. The platform provides an API for Apple’s Health app which allows users to store their health related data in the cloud. When accessed, the user is shown a dashboard of the health and fitness data which they’ve uploaded along with data provided by the sensors of connected devices such as wearable fitness monitoring devices, as well as wireless devices such as Bluetooth-enabled glucose monitors.

Previously, Apple provided an API in its SDK for storing & retrieving fitness information. Through HealthKit, their goal is to allow consumers to integrate health and fitness data from multiple sources to gain insight on their overall health and fitness levels, or to see how they are doing in approaching desired health related goals.

The HealthKit API will allow developers to create apps to access the user’s provided data and perform some action on it, such as being notified when blood pressure is taken or is above a specified limit. It also allows all the various health and fitness apps to work together, and it is the integration and aggregation of health and fitness data from multiple sources which will undoubtedly provide valuable insight to the user. A heart monitoring app and a blood pressure tracking app, sharing information, would provide a more comprehensive view of your overall health. As another example, an app which scans a consumer’s newly uploaded lab report may pinpoint an irregularity or a pattern which, by accessing vast amounts of reference data such as that owned by WebMD or the Mayo Clinic, will be able to suggest certain medical conditions that the user should consult a doctor for. By the way, this provides a monetization opportunity for companies such as WebMD who provide APIs to their data by charging the developers for access to the data. Read more about API monetization in my previous blog post “Making Money with APIs”.

Not surprisingly, Google reportedly is launching their own health service called Google Fit to compete with Healthkit. Another contender is Samsung, with Simband. But this is an open hardware development platform for other companies to adopt in pursuit of the perfect wearable fit-tech device and not a mobile app or API. Nevertheless, I've included it here to illustrate that it's not just mobile apps that are getting into this arena.

Ahead of HealthKit, WebMD launched Healthy Target, a feature of their mobile app, on June 16, 2014. In addition to aggregating data from iOS connected devices and wireless equipment, Healthy Target allows users to set goals and track habits, end it even provides progress reports and inspiration for goal setters. How is all this accomplished? Data and app integration through APIs, of course. Is this the beginning of consumers taking more interest in their health? Can this lead the way for more proactive healthcare, healthier consumers, and lower insurance rates? Tell us your thoughts.

 

References:

  1. Forrester Research: Quick Take: Apple Moves Healthcare Closer To A Mainstream Embrace Of The Customer, June 9, 2014
  2. Various Apple web pages
  3. 9To5Mac article, June 16, 2014
  4. The Telegraph article, June 20, 2014
  5. CITEworld article, June 4, 2014
  6. PCWorld article, May 28, 2014

 

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