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Cedars-Sinai goes all-in on Apple HealthKit

Cedars-Sinai goes all-in on Apple HealthKit | Healthcare and Technology news |

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has become the latest provider organization to link its electronic medical records system to Apple's HealthKit software.

CIO Darren Dworkin, speaking to Bloomberg Business, said that information from HealthKit now will appear in health records for more than 80,000 patients. Several other hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System, as well as Stanford University Hospital and Duke University, also integrate with HealthKit.

"This is just another set of data that we're confident our physicians will take into account as they make clinical and medical judgments," Dworkin said, who added that use of HealthKit will be a learning experience.

"We don't really, fully know and understand how patients will want to use this," he said.

Dworkin added that HealthKit will be available for all patients throughout the system to use as they choose. 

"The opt-out is just don't use it," he said.

At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's mHealth Summit in the District of Columbia last December, Ochsner Chief Clinical Transformation Officer Richard Milani and Duke Medicine Director of Mobile Technology Ricky Bloomfield shared insight into their respective organizations' HealthKit integrations. Both facilities use Epic's patient portal, MyChart.

Milani said the amount of data patients could generate that could then go into their records was pretty small; he said about 50 to 60 discreet elements such as weight, sodium intake and blood pressure could be entered. Bloomfield, however, said that based on conversations with Apple healthcare executives, he expects that number to grow.

Bloomfield added that HealthKit integration will help to transform the use of EHRs for providers.

"This was finally something we could give them that would live up to the promise of what EHRs can provide, and what having access to this kind of data can provide," Bloomfield said at the Summit.

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More hospitals are trying Apple HealthKit than Google Fit

More hospitals are trying Apple HealthKit than Google Fit | Healthcare and Technology news |

Apple is moving its health care products into hospitals far faster than rivals Google and Samsung, claims a new report from Reuters. The news agency says that 14 of the 23 top hospitals it contacted were already trialling pilot programs with Apple’s HealthKit service to monitor chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Google and Samsung, meanwhile, were reportedly only beginning talks to secure partners for their own health-monitoring systems, Google Fit and S Health. Reuters added that doctors were especially "eager" to try Google Fit.

Apple has been more focused on medical data — google is looking at fitness

This disparity between the companies is significant but not unexpected. When Apple unveiled HealthKit in June last year it focused heavily on its emerging partnerships with hospitals and research groups like the Mayo Clinic. Google, meanwhile, has already tried its hand at creating a depositary for medical records accessible by patients and doctors alike: Google Health launched in 2008 and closed in 2013. By comparison, the company’s new Google Fit program is far more focused on nutrition and exercise — as is Samsung’s S Health.

All three of these companies are taking advantage of a number of trends, including the spread of powerful smartphones, the popularity of fitness trackers, and the inclusion of internet connections in even common household appliances such as scales. Apple, however, seems to be first out of the blocks in tackling the more difficult problem of getting data collected by these devices into doctors’ hands. At WWDC last year, the company announced a partnership with Epic Systems, the leading provider in the US of digital health records. Epic has already built apps to give doctors access to patients’ data and currently handles data for more than half of the US population. It's this sort of experience that could help Apple get ahead.

Apple has partnered with Epic, which handles half of America's medical data

However, there are still significant hurdles ahead for any tech company moving into the healthcare sector. Beyond simply building software that patients and doctors will use, there are issues of security and data selection: an iCloud-style data breach of medical records would be intolerable (and more than possible — hackers stole tens of millions of patient records from Anthem this week), and doctors won't want to be bombarded with potentially irrelevant or false data. Apple has made the first move, but there's still plenty of time for its rival to catch up.

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Is Apple HealthKit Headed For Hospital Dominance? | Hospital EMR and EHR

Is Apple HealthKit Headed For Hospital Dominance? | Hospital EMR and EHR | Healthcare and Technology news |

Even for a company with the cash and reach of Apple, crashing the healthcare party is quite an undertaking.  Not only does healthcare come with unique technical challenges, it’s quite the conservative business, in many cases clinging to old technologies and approaches longer than other data-driven industries.

Of late, however, Apple’s HealthKit has attracted the attention of some high-profile healthcare institutions, such as New Orleans-based Ochsner Medical Center and Stanford Healthcare. All told, a total of fourteen major U.S. hospitals are running trials of HealthKit. What’s more, more than 600 developers are integrating HealthKit tech into their own health and fitness apps.

What’s particularly interesting is that some of these healthcare organizations are integrating Apple’s new patient-facing, iOS HealthKit app with Epic EMRs and the HealthKit enterprise platform.  If this works out, it could vault Apple into a much more lucrative position in the industry, as bringing together health app, platform and EMR accomplishes one of the major steps in leveraging mobile health.

According to MobiHealthNews, the new app allows patients to check out test results, manage prescriptions, set appointments, hold video visits with Stanford doctors, review medical bills — and perhaps most significantly, upload their vital signs remotely and have the data added to their Epic chart. This is a big step forward for hospitals, but even more so for doctors, many of whom have warned that they have no time to manage a separate stream of mobile patient data as part of patient care.

For Apple leaders, the next step will be to roll out the upcoming Apple Watch and integrate it into its expanding Internet of Apple Healthcare Things. CEO Tim Cook is pitching the Apple Watch as a key component in promoting consumer health. While the iPhone gathers data, the smart watch will proactively remind consumers to move. “If I sit for too long, it will actually tap me on the wrist to remind me to get up and move, because a lot of doctors think sitting is the new cancer,” Cook told an audience at an investor conference recently.

All that being said, it’s not as though Apple is marching through healthcare corridor’s unopposed. For example, Samsung is very focused on becoming the mobile healthcare  technology provider of choice. For example, in November, Samsung announced relationships with 24 health IT partners, including Aetna, the Cleveland Clinic and Cigna.

At its second annual developer conference last December, Samsung introduced an array of software tools designed to support the buildout of a digital health ecosystem, including the Samsung Digital Health SDK and Gear S SDK, which lets app makers create software compatible with Samsung’s smart watches. Also, Samsung is already on the second generation of its Simband reference design for wearable device design, as well as the cloud-based Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions, which collects sensor data.

And Microsoft, of course, is not going to sit and watch idly as a multibillion-dollar market goes to competitors. For example, late last year the tech giant launched a fitness tracking wristband and mobile health app. It’s also kicked off a HealthKit-like platform, imaginatively dubbed Microsoft Health, which among other things, allows fitness band users to store data and transfer it to the Microsoft Health app. Microsoft isn’t winning the PR war as of yet — Apple still has a gift for doing that — but have no doubt that it’s lurking in the swamps like an alligator, ready to close its powerful jaws on the next right opportunity to expand its healthcare presence.

Bottom line, Apple has captured some big-name pilot testers for its HealthKit platform and related products, but the game is just beginning. Having users in place is a good start, but Apple is miles away from being able to declare itself the leader in the emerging hospital mobile health market.

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