Apple has quietly acquired health data startup Gliimpse, Fast Company reports. The acquisition reportedly happened earlier this year, although it hasn’t been publicly announced. Fast Company says that Apple has now confirmed it, commenting that "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." Apple responded to The Verge with the same statement.
Founded in 2013, Gliimpse collates users’ personal health data from different platforms, turning information from labs, hospitals, and pharmacies into a single shareable report. This report can be used to provide doctors with a complete medical record, but Gliimpse also suggests that users donate it anonymously to a "national health graph," which would provide raw material to researchers seeking medical breakthroughs. It’s founded by Anil Sethi, who has previously had startups acquired by Citrix Systems and WebMD — and who has said he got the idea while watching his sister navigate treatment for breast cancer.
This acquisition expands Apple’s existing portfolio of programs that collect or manage health data. In 2014, the company announced HealthKit, which aggregates data from both fitness apps like Nike+ and health care providers like the Mayo Clinic. A year later, it followed up with ResearchKit, which lets researchers craft medical studies and recruit users for them via iOS apps. A third program, CareKit, helps developers create apps to manage conditions like diabetes and depression.
While all of these could help make it easier to navigate the often fragmented, confusing health care system, they also raise privacy and security questions due to the highly sensitive data that could be collected. There are clear parallels between what Gliimpse offers and what Apple’s platforms already do, but based on the boilerplate above, it's less clear how — and when — we’ll see its influence in any of them.