|Apple's Craig Federighi said that the company is working with a number of leading institutions to provide data for HealthKit
Back in March, a leak led to speculation that Apple was creating its own digital health platform – codenamed Healthbook. Today, in a keynote at the Apple Worldwide Devlopers Conference (WWDC) Craig Federighi, Apple's senior VP of software engineering, confirmed those rumors when he unveiled two new functions for the newly-released iOS 8 – HealthKit and Health.
“Developers have created a vast array of healthcare device and applications,” Federighi told the audience. “[But] up until now the information lives in silos.”
With HealthKit Apple wants to provide “a single place that applications can contribute to a composite profile of your activity and health.”
With its accompanying app, simply dubbed “Health,” which tracks the standard value metrics including calories and sleep, iOS 8 will be able to gather information from other third-party apps such as Nike+ onto a single platform to create a singular user health profile. Federighi however did not give details on how HealthKit might handle the same metrics from multiple platforms. For example, if a user gets a heart rate reading from more than one app or device how will HealthKit handle this data?
Federighi also announced that Apple is working with with Mayo Clinic to make HealthKit a true healthcare platform for patient monitoring. By creating a personal profile of each user's medical records in conjunction with HealthKit, the Mayo Clinic App will be able to check whether a reading (heart rate for example) falls with a patient's personal parameters. It can then contact a hospital proactively and notify a doctor if necessary.
“We believe Apple's HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people,” Dr. John H. Noseworthy, CEO of Mayo Clinic, was quoted as saying.”We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic App”
A recent string of layoffs at Nike
fueled speculation that the company was scaling back its Fuelband to focus more on integrating its Nike+ app with the new Apple platform, Federighi's mention that Nike was among the companies actively working to integrate with HealthKit falls right in line with this prediction.
Apple is very serious about its commitment to app developement and is working to make it even easier for developers of all types to enter the market. In the keynote Apple CEO Tim Cook said that there are currently 9 million registered developers creating apps for iOS and MAC – up 47% from last year – and 1.2 million apps currently available in the App Store. While certainly all of these apps are not healthcare related (estimates put that number at over 100,000) , numbers like this represent a need for an integrated hub like HealthKit when it's possible to have so many health apps on a sinle iPhone or iPad.
Apple also unveiled the latest release of its software development kit (SDK) which promises features that will only encourage more app developers. Cook called this new SDK “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store.” A new feature called TestFlight will let developers beta test their apps right through the App Store by inviting users to download apps and provide feedback. Apple also announced a new feature called Extensibility which will allow third-party apps to speak to each other and share information. Already this brings new potential for mHealth developers who may be able to create apps that draw from readings from other apps to provide deeper insights and new measurements.
iOS 8 will be released Fall of 2014.