Apple's HealthKit Service Debut Should Happen This Fall Despite Regulatory Issues

Aug 12, 2014 06:00 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Apple

The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo on June 26, 2014.
(Photo : Reuters)

Apple has been talking about how its "HealthKit" service will work with health providers at Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins as well as with Allscripts, a competitor to electronic health records provider Epic Systems, according to a report by Reuters.

The report, which cites "people familiar with the discussions," says that while talks may not amount to anything concreate, they do underscore how the iPhone-maker is planning on making health data available for consumers and health providers to view in one place.

Apple realizes how important it is for people to be able to see their pulse, weight, and blood pressure, and they hope to accomplish just that with the introduction of its "HealthKit" service.

"Apple is going into this space with a data play," said Forrester Research's health care analyst Skip Snow, according to Reuters. "They want to be a hub of health data."

This data is currently being collected by thousands of third-party health care software apps and medical devices, but isn't stored anywhere.

Apple hopes eventually physicians will use the data to monitor patients between visits, after receiving consent from a patient, in order to make better diagnostic and treatment decisions.

Apple hasn't released much information about the service yet, but it is expected to be incorporated into the iPhone 6 once it's released this fall.

Some implementation with HealthKit could be a challenge due to a number of privacy and regulatory requirements and many decades-old IT systems, said Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT, a Washington-based organization that represents mobile app developers.

"Everybody is knocking on the door," he said. "But I doubt that HealthKit will merge with all the existing systems."

HealthKit relies on the ability of users to share data. But depending on how that data is used, Apple and its partners could be subject to the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

Rivals Google and Samsung are also exploring similar services to compete with Apple.

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