The Mayo Clinic has decided to be involved with Apple because it hopes remote monitoring tools such as the Apple Watch, along with the HealthKit platform, will allow it to better reach patients remotely.
By the end of September, Mayo plans to broaden its patient app available on iTunes—which allows patients to access their test results and make appointments—into a consumer app, said Dr. John Wald, the clinic's medical director for marketing. By early next year, it also could allow the clinic to interact with consumers for conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiac disease and asthma. For example, Wald said, they could help obese patients with diet and exercise. Wald said no money is changing hands under the partnership.
Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, said the combination of HealthKit and wearables such as the Apple Watch will allow providers to facilitate wellness, which is increasingly important under population-health-management models. “I think it's going to radically change our ability to coordinate care,” he said, noting how a wearable device combined with a platform such as HealthKit could help people remotely monitor the functional status of a family member with a condition such as multiple sclerosis.
Beth Israel Deaconess plans to build its own app that takes advantage of HealthKit and remote monitoring tools like the Apple Watch to target readmissions of patients with congestive heart failure. The app Halamka envisions will track patient information such as daily weight, activity levels and pulse, and notify care managers of any clinically significant variance.
HealthKit also holds promise as a new foundation for health app developers. Because the platform will aggregate data from various wearables and render it into a common format, “developers can focus on cool functions for apps without having to worry about the interfaces or even the notion of different data standards for dealing with these” devices, Halamka said. As a result, he said, systems will become more aggressive in creating their own apps.