Apple sees mobile health push as ‘moral obligation’

Craig Federighi showing iOS 8's Health app to the world at WWDC. (Photo: Roberto Baldwin/ The Next Web)

Craig Federighi showing iOS 8’s Health app to the world last week at WWDC. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

Apple will be working closely with the Food and Drug Administration on future products related to the health industry, according to new information provided by the government.

Back in January, The New York Times reported that Apple had met with the FDA to discuss “mobile medical applications.” The talk was believed to center on the company’s rumored plans for health-tracking software in iOS 8 and maybe even the iWatch. HealthKit and the new Health app were announced at WWDC last week, and an iWatch announcement is expected in October.

Now more of the details from Apple’s meeting with the FDA have been disclosed. Apple said it may have a “moral obligation” to do more with health-related sensors on mobile devices.

Apple Toolbox submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the FDA in an attempt to learn more about the meeting three months ago. The FDA has finally responded after Apple’s related announcements at WWDC.

“Apple sees mobile technology platforms as an opportunity for people to learn more about themselves. With the potential for more sensors on mobile devices, Apple believes there is the opportunity to do more with devices, and that there may be a moral obligation to do more.”

Although devices like the iPhone already have sensors like accelerometers, Apple sees there still being “opportunity to innovate” in the field. Moving forward, “Apple wants to make sure they are on the side of the FDA,” according to the meeting’s memorandum.

Apple has reportedly been hiring experts in the medical field and working on special sensors for monitoring things like blood glucose levels. With something like an iWatch that could be marketed as a tool to help diabetics, the FDA would likely have to review “the software that puts the sensor to use.” So actual iWatch hardware would not have to been seen by the FDA, but the software that’s used to read its sensors would.

During its introduction of HealthKit and the Health app last week, Apple said it was working with the Mayo Clinic to let doctors use HealthKit to help advise patient treatment and medical care. As Apple continues to grow its presence in the medical arena, it will want to have its technology approved by the FDA.

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About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too. All DMs excepted.

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