Apple’s iOS 8 HealthKit technology is already in use at 14 of the top 23 U.S. hospitals, and is showing early promise as a way for doctors to remotely monitor patients while lowering costs.
Fourteen of 23 top hospitals contacted by Reuters said they have rolled out a pilot program of Apple’s HealthKit service – which acts as a repository for patient-generated health information like blood pressure, weight or heart rate – or are in talks to do so.
The pilots are being used by doctors to monitor patients with such chronic conditions as diabetes and hypertension.
Apple’s HealthKit works by using an iOS 8 device to gather such data as glucose measurements, food intake, exercise apps, and Wi-Fi connected scales.
While Apple rivals Google and Samsung have released similar services, they are just now reaching out for partners in the medical field, giving Apple a head start on its competitors.
New U.S. government guidelines penalize hospitals for repeat admissions of patients, and remote monitoring such as that offered by Apple’s HealthKit can help them avoid that, at a relatively low cost.
“The U.S. healthcare market is $3 trillion, and researcher IDC Health Insights predicts that 70 percent of healthcare organizations worldwide will invest by 2018 in technology including apps, wearables, remote monitoring and virtual care.”
Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans is working to roll out a pilot program for high-risk patients. They are already tracking several hundred patients who are struggling with controlling their blood pressure.
“If we had more data, like daily weights, we could give the patient a call before they need to be hospitalized,” said Chief Clinical Transformation Officer Dr. Richard Milani.
Apple says it has over 600 developers that are working to integrate HealthKit features into their health and fitness apps.
Many of the hospitals that spoke with Reuters said they were eager to also try pilots of Google’s Fit service, since the company’s Android operating system powers a majority of smartphones.
Samsung is working with Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital on similar health-tracking technology. The firm is also working with the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center.