Apple's HealthKit could be the innovation doctors have been looking for when it comes to improving accuracy and increasing the speed of reporting patient data. HealthKit would allow doctors to review a patient's health data from multiple health apps in one central place and would be able to warn the patient if there is a serious problem.
Doctors will get the first look at how Apple's HealthKit will work, as two prominent hospitals in the U.S. prepare to launch trials.
The trials will be conducted with diabetics and chronic disease patients using Apple's healthcare system that consists of glucose monitors and other regulated medical devices and iPhone apps that sync the data to HealthKit.
Even though the healthcare service is still in development, doctors at Stanford University Hospital are working with Apple to track blood sugar levels in children with diabetes. The children with Type 1 diabetes will be given an iPod touch to monitor blood sugar levels in between their scheduled doctor's visits.
Two young patients have been chosen to participate in the initial trial. Pediatric endocrinologist Rajiv Kumar, the physician leading Stanford's pilot, says his team will be able to set up alerts to notify the patients when their blood sugar levels rise or fall.
A pilot to track blood pressure, weight and other health data for cancer and heart disease patients is being developed at Duke University. The pilot program will be available in the coming weeks.
"This could eliminate the hassle of getting data from patients, who want to give it to us," says Ricky Bloomfield internal medicine pediatrician and director of mobile strategy at Duke University. "HealthKit removes some of the error from patients' manually entering their data."
HealthKit links health measuring devices that are commonly used by patients at home with the medical information services like Apple's partner Epic Systems Corp that is trusted by doctors.
Medical device maker DexCom Inc is in talks with Apple, Stanford University and the FDA about integrating its blood sugar monitoring equipment with HealthKit. The company's device measures glucose levels after the patient uses its tiny sensor under the skin of their abdomen that transmits data every five minutes with a hand-held receiver. The data is sent to DexCom's app, which could then be synced to an iPhone's HealthKit.
Doctors could then upload the HealthKit data into Epic's "My Chart" electronic health record.
HealthKit could improve preventive care, which would lower the cost of healthcare and keep patients healthy. It would seamlessly increase the speed of reporting data, which is typically done via phone and fax.
Some doctors worry that Apple's service will affect the mentality of patients, either making them more paranoid or more aware and in control of their health.
But privacy is a concern when it comes to the healthcare system. Patients are worried that hackers could get access to all their personal information that is stored in one location. Apple is considering creating a "HealthKit Certification" for third party developers, which would prohibit selling data to advertisers.
Apple insists that patient's health information will be private and protected.