Apple's potential role in the Epic-IBM Pentagon EHR bid

Apple iOS support would play a role if the joint bid by IBM and Verona, Wisconsin-based electronic health record vendor Epic to develop a new EHR system for the Department of Defense is accepted, according to an InformationWeek article.

The news comes on the heels of IBM and Apple's announcement about partnering to push out iPhone and iPad healthcare applications. Epic has long worked with both vendors on software efforts and IBM is "under the covers" of about 80 percent of Epic installations, according to InformationWeek.

Yet that's just the start of what could be an expansive mHealth strategy by all three partners with news that IBM's Watson also is becoming part of the strategy, as reported by MedCity News. IBM has already been inviting health IT players to tap Watson for app development. One app maker is using Watson to broaden its portfolio of patient engagement apps, providing users more accurate data to meet wellness goals, according to the article.

Apple's Health Kit could tap Watson's machine learning for insights collected from sensor that may integrate with HealthKit, the article noted.

The cumulative result, in terms of healthcare, will be that in the future "nobody will ever be discharged from care," Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's business with the public sector, including health systems, told InformationWeek, as mHealth tools will play a continual role in post-care environments.

The news of Apple and IBM forging a global strategic partnership to transform business using mobile technology is igniting excitement within the healthcare sector. A big chunk of the duo's strategy is the marriage of IBM's big data and analytic capabilities and the iPhone and iPad--devices that already are warmly embraced in the industry. The two tech titans promise to develop and create apps for healthcare, as well as several other industries.

"In concept, the Apple/IBM deal sounds like a great opportunity to synergize," George Hickman, CIO at Albany Medical Center, said, according to an American Banker report. "Apple has heretofore shown a bias to consumer devices, making enterprise deployment a challenge, an area where IBM has been solid for decades."

For more information:
- read the InformationWeek article
- read the MedCity News article
- check out the American Banker report

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