In contrast, however, Epic was notably silent and Mayo returned the lavish praise with a nice firm handshake. All told ‒ fairly odd ‒ and very reflective of the muddy waters of consumer fitness, health, wellness and then actual clinical healthcare. The more that line is intentionally blurred (and breached), the easier it is to attract the single most important human organ in all of Silicon Valley ‒ the eyeball.
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It’s hard not to be a tad cynical with these big announcements because they always arrive with such great fanfare ‒ and scant details. The vision may be there, but it’s challenging to articulate when it’s incomplete. In the meantime, it’s really more of a budding lovefest than anything tangible or material.
For those who have seen the rapid rise (and subsequent demise) of Personal Health Records (PHR’s) it’s all a bit too much Deja Vu ‒ all over again. Yet another “platform” for collecting/aggregating and then “sharing” our personal health data. Quick, name a software company that doesn’t want as much of that as they can legally grab?
Some of this we’ve seen before with Google Health (RIP ‒ 1/1/2012), Revolution Health (RIP ‒ 2/1/2010) and then “last-PHR-standing,” Microsoft's Healthvault ‒ which has a solid pulse but unknown usage.
Monday’s announcement by Apple at the start of their annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC14) definitely qualifies as interesting ‒ but not really all that revolutionary. Something that fellow Forbes Contributor Neil Versel put directly into his headline (here).
Epic Systems ‒ by far the largest single Electronic Health Record software vendor on planet earth ‒ made no reference to Apple’s announcement on their website (here), and Mayo’s website was clearly proud of their contribution to the joint effort, even though (by their own admission), the app itself is still under development.
Apple highlighted HealthKit through a new Mayo Clinic app under development that would offer users a more personalized experience and make their health data more actionable in supporting healthier lifestyles. Integrating with Apple’s new HealthKit, Mayo Clinic patients and consumers will be able to more easily access personalized health information, guidance and care when they need it. Mayo Clinic patients will continue to securely access their patient information and services, but in the future, they will increasingly be able to organize and act on their health and wellness data in a more seamless manner. Users will be able to monitor various HealthKit parameters through an easy-to-interpret dashboard, which highlights trends and flags values that may need attention. Developments about the free HealthKit app will be announced as they become available. Apple Highlights New Mayo Clinic App During Worldwide Developers Keynote – Mayo Clinic website
Images of use case scenarios on the two websites were also distinctly different.
When combined with iCloud, the goal of HealthKit appears to be very similar to Samsung’s recently announced SAMI (last week here) which is also designed to work in a similar way with Samsung’s mobile health app ‒ S-Health (announced last year here).
Clearly both vendors ‒ Samsung and Apple ‒ appear eager to work with 3rd party software and wearable device manufacturers, but the other news out of WWDC14 wasn’t entirely supportive of that commitment from Apple. Seems that some of the new features in the just announced version of iOS are not only competitive with existing 3rd party apps, they prompted one high profile CEO to tweet this:
Other features looked very similar ‒ if not in design, certainly in functionality ‒ to cloud storage providers Dropbox and Box. Another function also appeared to mimic Snapchat’s disappearing feature very directly.
Hype aside, there’s another big detail lost in all the fanfare. Apple’s big criticism ‒ and something they referenced multiple times during the keynote ‒ is that consumer data (of any kind) is locked into “apps” ‒ or “silo’s.” Yup ‒ no argument there ‒ but how is Apple’s “walled garden” solution better or likely to capture 3rd party AND consumer support?
One great example of this is Type 1 diabetic Anna McCollister-Slipp who described her personal frustration with device interoperability at the West Health event earlier this year (here). Multiple medical devices and apps ‒ none of which communicate with each other (let alone with her providers) makes her daily (often hourly) routine excruciating. Especially since the technology behind sharing digitized data is relatively easy.
Apple’s “walled garden” is definitely bigger, but are the handset manufacturers really the best choice for silo’d personal health data? Whatever anyone’s personal view ‒ we’re all about to find out.
In the meantime, how much of that sensor data is clinical has yet to be seen, but we could see Apple’s first version later this year. The much anticipated iWatch which will likely be a key source of data collection for Apple’s new HealthKit.
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