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US hospitals trial Apple’s HealthKit

Published on 06/02/15 at 09:29am
HealthKit Image
Apple's HealthKit

A pilot programme for Apple’s mobile health platform HealthKit has been rolled out across a number of US hospitals to help doctors monitor patients with chronic conditions.

HealthKit gathers data from various health apps on Apple devices such as Motion 24/7 Sleeptracker and blood pressure monitor Health Mate, some can then be viewed by health professionals to monitor patients remotely.

Reuters contacted 14 of the 23 hospitals involved and revealed that the technology allows doctors to watch for early signs of illness and can contribute to lowering repeat admissions.

“If we had more data, like daily weights, we could give the patient a call before they need to be hospitalised,” Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans’ chief clinical transformation officer Dr Richard Milani, told Reuters.

This US medical centre is using the Apple platform to track a number of patients struggling to control their blood pressure. HealthKit brings together information such as heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol.

According to research firm IDC Health Insights the US healthcare market is worth $3 trillion, and by 2018 it predicts that 70% of healthcare organisations will have invested in digital technology such as apps and wearables.

The pilot scheme has given Californian-based Apple the edge over its rivals Google and Samsung, which have both released comparable gadgets respectively but are yet to trial them in hospitals.

Google Fit is a free downloadable app compatible with all Android devices on the market, and a handful of the 23 US hospitals involved in the programme also told Reuters that they were ‘eager’ to trial Google’s mobile health offering.

Google revealed to Reuters that several developer partners are on board for its Fit offering because the search firm’s Android platform powers most smartphones.

Likewise, Samsung unveiled its novel wristband Simband last year, an ‘investigational’ prototype that can be used to measure body temperature and blood oxygen levels. It also has its Gear range of wearables that can track steps and monitor heart rate.

Don’t mention iOS8

Apple originally announced that the HealthKit would debut at 2014’s iOS8 launch but the event was notable for the absence of the anticipated platform. This was followed by a brief statement from the company explaining that the technology was facing problems.

The glitch-ridden launch saw users met with error messages and bugs in software updates, but now less than a year later Apple has tapped into a lucrative market where its rivals are sure to follow.

Tom Robinson

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