Apple HealthKit viewed as a major market changer

Apple announced its biggest foray into mHealth Monday with the debut of HealthKit at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The effort is a virtual service framework fostering data sharing between patients and medical professionals, third-party devices such as Nike's FuelBand wearables and medical institutions beginning with a partnership with the Mayo Clinic.

Apple officials say the goal is improving communication between doctors and patients while giving consumers greater control of health activities and decisions. The HealthKit is part of Apple's iOS8 SDK, the latest developer OS for its iPads and iPhones.

"We believe Apple's HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people," John Noseworthy, Mayo Clinic president and CEO, said in an announcement. "We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app."

While Apple isn't the first vendor into the market--last week Samsung debuted a digital health initiative boasting open hardware and software platforms for mHealth technology--its platform commitment and developer focus are being cited as game-changers that could push apps out of the 'novelty' category and boost consumer adoption.

Applications developed through HealthKit will be able to share data with other apps for more in-depth health management, according to Apple. Such capability is considered breakthrough technology, according to Adam Powell, Ph.D., president of Payer+Provider Syndicate. In March, Powell co-authored a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that the proliferation and increasing use of mobile healthcare apps requires an unbiased review and certification process.

"For the past year mHealth has been on the verge of crossing the chasm between early adopters and the early majority," Powell told FierceMobileHealthcare via email. "Apple's announcement is evidence to me that it has finally done so."

Apple's entry into the mHealth market has two major implications, Powell continued. One, he said, is that quantified self-device makers will be able to focus more on hardware-based product differentiation, as HealthKit will standardize the user experience. Another is that utility of all integrated mHealth apps and devices will increase, given the ability to securely share data with healthcare institutions.

"In the past, there has been no organized way for clinicians to access their patients' app data," Powell said. "If clinicians can access mHealth app data, apps can transform from tools for personal enlightenment to an integral part of healthcare."

For more information:
- read the announcement
- check out this FierceWireless article