Apple rumored to be eyeing personal health records on iPhones

Dive Brief:

  • Apple is secretly working on turning the iPhone into the go-to source for a person’s medical information, CNBC reported. The idea is to move beyond fitness and wellness data and host lab results, allergies and other clinical information.
  • The company has been talking with hospitals, attending digital health industry meetings and looking for possible acquisitions. 
  • “If Apple is serious about this, it would b a big f---ing deal,” Farzad Mostashari, former National Coordinator for Health IT and founder of Aledade, told CNBC’s Christina Farr.

Dive Insight:

Tech companies have tried their hand at patient-inputted data before, but it hasn't gone well so far. Microsoft brought out Microsoft Band and HealthVault, but dropped both when they didn’t gain traction. The company recently relaunched HealthVault as a service rather than a product, via an arrangement with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to create products that change care delivery.

Apple, however, has a good track record for its products and has been building up a high-profile team with hires such as Ricky Bloomfield, a physician and former director of mobile strategy at Duke University, and Mike Evans, who previously led the digital preventive medicine team at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute in Toronto.

Reports surfaced earlier this year of a secretive team of biomedical engineers working on noninvasive sensors to help manage diabetes. That could create new market opportunities for the Apple watch. Apple has also raised the entry bar for medical and health apps sold in its iOS App Store, a sign it takes personal health information privacy seriously.

If Apple is able to pull off the iPhone effort, it could prove a blockbuster given the number of doctors and clinicians who use iOS devices and their popularity with consumers. It could also take a bite out of the interoperability problem by allowing patients to share health information directly from their phones with different providers.

Still, a lot of market forces work against interoperability such as the much-fabled "information blocking" so it'll be interesting to see how this product could develop and what it means for information sharing.

Filed Under: Health IT