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Apple's HealthKit ServiceTakes Early Lead AmongTop Hospitals

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Apple Inc's healthcare technology is
spreading quickly among major U.S.
hospitals, showing early promise as a
way for doctors to monitor patients
remotely and lower costs.

Fourteen of 23 top hospitals contacted
by Reuters said they have rolled out a
pilot program of Apple's HealthKit servic
- which acts as a repository for patient-
generated health information like blood
pressure, weight or heart rate - or are in
talks to do so.

The pilots aim to help physicians monito
patients with such chronic conditions as
diabetes and hypertension. Apple rivals
Google Inc and Samsung Electronics,
which have released similar services, are
only just starting to reach out to
hospitals and other medical partners.
Such systems hold the promise of
allowing doctors to watch for early signs
of trouble and intervene before a medica
problem becomes acute. That could help
hospitals avoid repeat admissions, for
which they are penalized under new U.S.
government guidelines, all at a relatively
low cost.

The U.S. healthcare market is $3 trillion,
and researcher IDC Health Insights
predicts that 70 percent of healthcare
organizations worldwide will invest by
2018 in technology including apps,
wearables, remote monitoring and virtual
care.

Those trying out Apple's service included
at least eight of the 17 hospitals on one
list ranking the best hospitals, the U.S.
News & World Report's Honor Roll.
Google and Samsung had started
discussions with just a few of these
hospitals.

Apple's HealthKit works by gathering
data from sources such as glucose
measurement tools, food and exercise-
tracking apps and Wi-Fi connected
scales. The company's Apple Watch, due
for release in April, promises to add to
the range of possible data, which with
patients' consent can be sent to an
electronic medical record for doctors to
view.

"Timing right"

Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans
has been working with Apple and Epic
Systems, Ochsner's medical records
vendor, to roll out a pilot program for
high-risk patients. The team is already
tracking several hundred patients who ar
struggling to control their blood pressure
The devices measure blood pressure and
other statistics and send it to Apple
phones and tablets.

"If we had more data, like daily weights,
we could give the patient a call before
they need to be hospitalized," said Chief
Clinical Transformation Officer Dr.
Richard Milani.

Sumit Rana, chief technology officer at
Epic Systems, said the timing was right
for mobile health tech to take off.

"We didn't have smartphones ten years
ago; or an explosion of new sensors and
devices," Rana said.

Apple has said that over 600 developers
are integrating HealthKit into their health
and fitness apps.

Many of the hospitals told Reuters they
were eager to try pilots of the Google Fit
service, since Google's Android software
powers most smartphones. Google said i
has several developer partners on board
for Fit, which connects to apps and
devices, but did not comment on its
outreach to hospitals.

Samsung said it is working with Boston'
Massachusetts General Hospital to
develop mobile health technology. The
firm also has a relationship with the
University of California's San Francisco
Medical Center.

Apple's move into mobile health tech
comes as the Affordable Care Act and
other healthcare reform efforts aim to
provide incentives for doctors to keep
patients healthy. The aim is to move
away from the "fee for service" model,
which has tended to reward doctors for
pricey procedures rather than for
outcomes.

Still, hospitals must decide whether the
difficulty of sorting through a deluge of
patient-generated data of varying qualit
is worth the investment.

"This is a whole new data source that w
don't understand the integrity of yet,"
said William Hanson, chief medical
information officer at the University of
Pennsylvania Health System.

First steps


Apple has recruited informal industry
advisors, including Rana and John
Halamka, chief information officer of Bet
Israel Deaconess Medical Center and
Harvard Medical School, to discuss
health data privacy and for introduction
to the industry.

The company said it had an "incredible
team" of experts in health and fitness
and was talking to medical institutions,
healthcare and industry experts on ways
to deliver its services.

A few hospitals are also exploring how t
manage the data that is flowing in from
health and fitness-concerned patients,
whom many in Silicon Valley refer to as
the "worried well."

Beth Israel's Halamka said that many of
the 250,000 patients in his system had
data from sources such as Jawbone's U
activity tracker and wirelessly connected
scales.

"Can I interface to every possible device
that every patient uses? No. But Apple
can," he said.

Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles is
developing visual dashboards to present
patient-generated data to doctors in an
easy-to-digest manner.

Experts say that there will eventually be
need for common standards to ensure
that data can be gathered from both
Apple's system and its competitors.

"How do we get Apple to work with
Samsung? I think it will be a problem
eventually," said Brian Carter, a director
focused on personal and population
health at Cerner, an electronic medical
record vendor that is integrated with
HealthKit.

Apple's HealthKit Service Takes Early Lead Among Top Hospitals | NDTV Gadgets
 
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