Apple is moving its health care products into hospitals far faster than rivals Google and Samsung, claims a new report from Reuters. The news agency says that 14 of the 23 top hospitals it contacted were already trialling pilot programs with Apple’s HealthKit service to monitor chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Google and Samsung, meanwhile, were reportedly only beginning talks to secure partners for their own health-monitoring systems, Google Fit and S Health. Reuters added that doctors were especially "eager" to try Google Fit.
Apple has been more focused on medical data — google is looking at fitness
This disparity between the companies is significant but not unexpected. When Apple unveiled HealthKit in June last year it focused heavily on its emerging partnerships with hospitals and research groups like the Mayo Clinic. Google, meanwhile, has already tried its hand at creating a depositary for medical records accessible by patients and doctors alike: Google Health launched in 2008 and closed in 2013. By comparison, the company’s new Google Fit program is far more focused on nutrition and exercise — as is Samsung’s S Health.
All three of these companies are taking advantage of a number of trends, including the spread of powerful smartphones, the popularity of fitness trackers, and the inclusion of internet connections in even common household appliances such as scales. Apple, however, seems to be first out of the blocks in tackling the more difficult problem of getting data collected by these devices into doctors’ hands. At WWDC last year, the company announced a partnership with Epic Systems, the leading provider in the US of digital health records. Epic has already built apps to give doctors access to patients’ data and currently handles data for more than half of the US population. It's this sort of experience that could help Apple get ahead.
Apple has partnered with Epic, which handles half of America's medical data
However, there are still significant hurdles ahead for any tech company moving into the health care sector. Beyond simply building software that patients and doctors will use, there are issues of security and data selection: an iCloud-style data breach of medical records would be intolerable (and more than possible — hackers stole tens of millions of patient records from Anthem this week), and doctors won't want to be bombarded with potentially irrelevant or false data. Apple has made the first move, but there's still plenty of time for its rival to catch up.