If you live in America and you’ve seen more than one doctor in your lifetime, you know there’s no central database where all of your medical data lives. Instead, each health care provider has a separate record, and rarely are they ever merged.
Apple is reportedly working on electronic health record software that will take advantage of all the data collected from HealthKit apps and use it in more meaningful ways—like to diagose medical conditions—and create a centralized place for all that information to live.
Part of that effort is coming from the team that made up Gliimpse, an electronic health record database centralization startup Apple acquired earlier this year. According to Bloomberg, former Gliimpse employee and current Apple Health senior engineer Mohan Randhava described his work on LinkedIn as “building a platform, a set of application program interfaces, and a simple product that will bring what we believe will be a disruptive consumer health-care application to the U.S. for the first time.”
Another part is the Apple Watch, which is outfitted with a heart rate monitor, gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, and water-resistance up to 50 meters for advanced fitness-tracking. Bloomberg’s sources say Apple is working on two new apps for the watch, one that would track sleep and one that would assess your fitness level based on your peak and resting heart rates (along the same lines as the new Fitbit Charge 2’s cardio fitness score).
But Apple doesn’t plan to add more medical sensors, such as a glucometer or blood-pressure sensor, to the device, because those additions would likely require certification from the Food and Drug Administration. Instead, Apple will focus on improvements on the software side to HealthKit and ResearchKit that will allow health care providers to aggregate and analyze data more quickly.
There’s no timeline for those improvements, Bloomberg noted, but Apple is steadily adding to its health team and working with large research institutions and hospitals to prove its data is accurate. The company’s ResearchKit initiative allows health care partners to develop iPhone and Apple Watch apps that put clinical trials in the palm of your hand or on your wrist. So far, researchers have developed apps to study everything from rheumatoid arthritis and concussions to autism and addiction.
Why this matters: While Apple’s hardware has made it easier to collect health data, centralizing all of that information and making it easier to analyze is critical. Apple’s commitment to privacy and its relationships with hospitals and researchers have set the groundwork for its next big play.