Apple health care strategy remains shrouded in mystery despite Watch wearable arrival


Apple held its much-anticipated keynote presentation to announce the new iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. But something went missing: despite a great deal of hype and rumor, there was little mention of how the new smartphones and Apple's first-ever wearable would play into Apple's obvious health care strategy in play. 

The company is in talks with health insurance providers such as UnitedHealth and has been partnering for over two years with the Mayo Clinic, who had a presence at the event today, but little was mentioned in the keynote presentation or the product debut segments.

Employees from Mayo Clinic were expected to give a demonstration about how the new Health apps on the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch play a role in a more sophisticated management system related to Health. While this did not happen at the keynote presentation, it is possible that outside of the presentation a more in-depth look at Apple's role in health will be given.

Despite the lack of a health insurance-related announcement, the company did go into some detail about the health benefits the new Apple Watch can provide a personal level, including the ability to track things like heart rate, movement and so on. Those features, even with a few additional sensors mixed into the device, seem to be tied to third-party apps to come or already in play and being used on other Apple devices.

Apple has made no attempt to hide the fact it plans to be a major health care tech player. It's iPhone is already serving with a wide variety of health monitoring devices, and there is growing health care app development as well in its App Store. Yet its HealthKit platform, which will allow for data sharing between patients, hospitals and doctors, was not mentioned in relation to the iPhone or Watch news.

HealthKit is essentially a hub for all health-related data across Apple's devices. The new system was unveiled at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in June, with Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy being very impressed with the apps.

"We believe Apple's HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people," said Dr. Noseworthy.

Despite HealthKit seeming like a great idea, many are wondering how it will play a role in health insurance and how it will help doctors and nurses. Privacy is also a concern with the system, which would essentially have all of the users health data.

"That's where the privacy issue comes into play, because health care providers are scared to death of data breaches and privacy issues," said Mark A. McAndrew, a partner with law firm Taft Stettinius who works with a number of health and science clients. "They've got to figure out a way to get them comfortable."

While Apple did not make any announcement related to how Watch will work beyond personal fitness tracking, it is likely that more information on the topic will be released on the coming days.

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