Apple HealthKit lures Cerner, athenahealth into development efforts

Two top electronic health record providers are on the Apple HealthKit bandwagon and developing apps aimed at helping patients with chronic illness and fostering data sharing between care givers and patients, according to a Reuters report.

Cerner and athenahealth are tweaking mobile apps to leverage Apple's mHealth platform. Cerner's app is focused on helping physicians and care givers tap data that will be housed in HealthKit, while athenahealth's mobile app, once integrated with HealthKit, will help patients with chronic disease treatment and management by providing healthcare data access, according to Reuters.

"There is an awful lot we can do with HealthKit," Abbe Don, athenahealth vice president, told Reuters.

For the near term, at least, the new apps will be in a holding pattern until a bug with HealthKit, discovered last week, is fixed. The glitch prompted Apple to pull HealthKit-friendly apps from the App Store. Apple hopes to HealthKit apps available by the end of September.

Athenahelath and Cerner join rival electronic health record vendor Epic and IBM in developing mHealth apps for HealthKit to run on iPhone and iPad devices. Apple iOS support would play a role if a joint bid by IBM and Epic to develop a new EHR system for the Department of Defense is accepted. Epic has long worked with both vendors on software efforts and IBM is "under the covers" of about 80 percent of Epic installations.

Athenahealth plans to test its HealthKit application with Hudson Headwaters Health Network, according to Reuters, which also claims medical device makers are working on HealthKit integration in early trials.

In addition to the health record vendors, two university-related hospitals announced they will tap HealthKit for improving patient care through streamlined processes. Stanford University Hospital and Duke University will pilot the platform, Reuters reports. At Stanford, the emphasis will be on tracking blood sugar levels for pediatric diabetes patients. At Duke doctors will track vitals such as blood pressure and weight for patients suffering from heart disease or cancer.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article

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