Top U.S. hospitals are already putting Apple HealthKit to work

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Apple's reputation as a mobile health company is growing. Photo: Apple
Apple's got big aims for its digital health program. Photo: Apple

While most of us focus on the consumer, education or enterprise applications of Apple’s devices, there’s another huge market where Cupertino’s products are making waves: the medical profession.

According to a new report from Reuters, 14 out of the United States’ top 23 hospitals have already rolled out a pilot program for Apple’s HealthKit service, which acts as a one-stop shop for compiling everything from blood pressure information to heart rates.

As more and more of us use fitness and health-tracking devices, and other pieces of wearable tech in our daily lives, HealthKit is helping doctors respond appropriately to the mass of patient-generated data they’re now able to look at. One doctor at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is quoted as saying that 250,000 patients in his system collect similar health data.

“Can I interface to every possible device that every patient uses?” they say. “No. But Apple can.”

It’s a timely reminder of just how big the market is for Apple as it goes down the digital health route. The Apple Watch will likely be a big step in the right direction, and Apple is obviously aware of this, given the company’s hiring of biosensor experts in recent years. Apple is also courting and recruiting informal industry advisers at places like Harvard Medical School to help make introductions to industry decision-makers.

Meanwhile, competitors Google and Samsung are in only the early stages of talks with a fraction of the hospitals Apple is working with.

IDC Health Insights claims 70 percent of health care organizations worldwide will invest in mobile health technology, such as apps, wearables, remote monitoring and virtual care, by 2018. Given that the U.S. health care market alone is valued at $3 trillion, that’s a pretty giant market for Apple.

Plus, Tim Cook gets to live up to his self-professed mission of making Apple a “force for good in the world.”

Every way you look at it, Apple’s got everything to gain.