Where Apple may be headed next in healthcare

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Apple has an active install base of more than 1 billion devices, and recent partnerships as well as regulatory changes put it on a trajectory to emerge as a key player in the healthcare space going forward, according to a report from CB Insights.

Apple acquired personal health record startup Gliimpse in 2016, and then launched its own PHR app to track wellness information and health data for patients. The ONC's final interoperability rules promote the use of personal health records, which coupled with the push toward consumerism during the pandemic, could drive a quicker adoption of the Apple PHR.

Aetna has already worked with Apple to develop a program that encourages members to practice healthy behaviors; they receive rewards including Apple Watches and gift cards when they reach goals. HealthKit apps also exist and can be easily integrated into records.

The tech giant also has several devices that capture healthcare data, including the Apple Watch which offers single-lead ECG and can detect falls. Apple AirPods can also be used as hearing aids as well as collect temperature, perspiration and heart rate information.

The tech giant also made key acquisitions over the past few years, including a sleep tracking company Beddit and child asthma tracking company Tueo Health. In 2020, Apple purchased xnor.ai, an edge computing company.

Apple also has several partnerships in the healthcare space, including with the VA, Cleveland Clinic, Boston-based Partners HealthCare and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine. The company's partnerships also exist in healthcare research; Apple worked with Stanford Medicine on a heart study that included 419,297 participants for a remote trial. It has also worked with Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on healthcare-related studies.

Where could the company be headed?

"Apple owned and partnered devices plus software ecosystem will enable consumers to create a unified, portable health record," according to the report. "The ecosystem will enable consumers to gain insights into how behaviors impact biometrics, better manage symptoms and share information with providers or researchers."

More articles on health IT:
Patient experience 'never events' from 16 execs at Cleveland Clinic, Providence & more
Where Amazon could go next in healthcare
UPMC has invested $800M in digital health, entrepreneurial efforts for a $1.5B return

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