- Major electronic health vendors Cerner and Athenahealth announced on Thursday that they are working with Apple to develop integrated applications that will work with Apple's HealthKit platform.
- Athenahealth intends to use HealthKit to improve care for patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, according to the company. According to Cerner, the integrated functionality with HealthKit will allow care teams that use the vendor to access patient data through the Apple platform (with the patient's consent).
- Up until now, Apple had only announced a partnership with vendor Epic. Apple did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
The integration of other vendors with HealthKit may help to address the interoperability concerns that have plagued the Apple-Epic partnership since the beginning. Both systems are notoriously closed, so the fact that Apple has chosen to work with other health IT vendors is a pretty definite statement that it's not going to limit users to Epic's clients.
The announcement comes in the wake of a delay in HealthKit's release. Apple released its new iOS 8 operating platform on Wednesday, sans HealthKit. Rumors have been circulating that technical glitches would delay the launch of the health data gathering and sharing platform; on Wednesday, Apple told Reuters that it is "working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month."
Apple has also yanked some HealthKit-compatible apps, like MyFitnessPal and Carrot Fit. Although the tweet has since been removed, Carrot Fit developer Brian Mueller tweeted on Wednesday: "Well that's a relief. Just got a call from Apple, there's nothing wrong with CARROT Fit. HealthKit is just broken and isn't ready to launch." Then, shortly after, he added: "Sounds like HealthKit won't be working at all this week. And there's no ETA for when a bug fix will go live."
Meanwhile, across the country, the data sharing platform is being rolled out in hospital trials testing its clinical usefulness. HealthKit is soon to be part of trials focusing on childhood diabetes with Stanford University Hospital and cancer and heart disease at Duke University. With HealthKit, which is still in development, Apple hopes to work with hospitals across the country to help manage and improve care and reduce costs for patients with chronic conditions.
Athenahealth's Don said the company will test its "proof of concept" application with one client, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, a non-profit health center based in New York.