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Apple Launches Pilot Program with Top Hospitals

By Ryan Mcaskill

It was discovered that Apple has a pilot program in place with 14 top U.S. hospitals to incorporate the HealthKit API.

When it comes to wearable and mobile technology, many industries and trends seem to wait for Apple to weigh in before widely adopting. Because of the popularity of the technology company, when they decided to push a feature, there is a high probability that adoption rates will pick up.

The healthcare industry has been watching Apple since the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was held on June 2. That was when iOS 8, the newest version of the mobile operating system was revealed as well as the new standard Health App and the HealthKit development tool.

Through this application programing interface (API), software developers are able to create applications that will work with the Health App. That means any health device manufacturer can add interactivity with an iPhone or iPad into their devices. It can essentially turn Apple devices into a one stop shop for real time health data with information updated from digital and wireless enabled scales, pill boxes, glucose monitors, blood pressure machines, heart monitors and more.

All of this information can be a gold mine for hospitals and practitioners. This is the type of data that can show early indicators of serious conditions or would need to be monitored in patients that already have chronic conditions. Now, it appears that a partnership has been formed between some of the leading hospitals in the country and Apple.

Last week, a Reuters article reported that hospitals may be further along with Apple healthcare products than previously thought. The article reached out to 23 of the top hospitals in the country and found that 14 of them either have or are close to rolling out a pilot program to incorporate Apple’s HealthKit service.

The pilot program will allow physicians to better monitor data like blood pressure, weight and heart rate. With this information, practitioners can watch patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

The Reuters’ article interviewed Ochsner Medical Center’s Chief Clinical Transformation Officer Dr. Richard Milani. Ochsner is one of the hospitals that is part of the Apple pilot program. Currently, the hospital is tracking several hundred patients that have blood pressure problems. This happens through a device that measures blood pressure and a number of other statistics and sends them to a connected iPhone or iPad.

"If we had more data, like daily weights, we could give the patient a call before they need to be hospitalized," Milani said.

Apple is not the only company launching pilot programs like this with hospitals. Both Google and Samsung have similar health tracking devices and software. However, where Apple is already forming partnerships, its counterparts are just starting to reach out to the hospitals. Google will end up following a similar path as Apple, using the Google Fit service on Android devices, while Samsung is partnering with Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center to create mobile health technology.

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