Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and HIPAA for FREE!!

Apple’s Healthcare Data Plans Become Clearer

Posted on October 3, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Though it’s not without competitors, I’d argue that Apple’s HealthKit has stood out since its inception, in part because it was relatively early to the game (mining patient-centered data) and partly because Apple products have a sexy reputation. That being said, it hasn’t exactly transformed the health IT industry either.

Now, though, with the acquisition of Gliimpse, a startup which pulls data from disparate EMRs into a central database, it’s become clearer what Apple’s big-picture goals are for the healthcare market – and if its business model works out they could indeed change health data industry.

According to a nifty analysis by Bloomberg’s Alex Webb, which quotes an Apple Health engineer, the technology giant hopes to see the health data business evolve along the lines of Apple’s music business, in which Apple started with a data management tool (the iPod) then built a big-bucks music platform on the device. And that sounds like an approach that could steal a move from many a competitor indeed.

Apple’s HealthKit splash
Apple made a big splash with the summer 2014 launch of HealthKit, a healthcare data integration platform whose features include connecting patient generated health data with traditional systems like the Epic EMR. It also attracted prominent partners like Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Ochsner Health System within a year or so of its kickoff.

Still, the tech giant has been relatively quiet about its big-picture vision for healthcare, leaving observers like yours truly wondering what was up. After all, many of Apple’s health data moves have been incremental. For example, a few months ago I noted that Apple had begun allowing users to store their EMR data directly in its Health app, using the HL7 CCD standard. While interesting, this isn’t exactly an earth-shattering advance.

But in his analysis — which makes a great deal of sense to me – Bloomberg’s Webb argues that Apple’s next act is to take the data it’s been exchanging with wearables and put it to better use. Apple’s long-awaited big idea is to turn Apple’s HealthKit into a system that can improve diagnoses, sources told Bloomberg.

Also, Apple intends to integrate health records as closely with its proprietary devices as possible, offering not only data collection but suggestions for better health in a manner that can’t be easily duplicated on Android platforms. As Webb rightly points out, such a move could undermine Google’s larger healthcare plans, by locking consumers into Apple technology and discouraging a switch to the Google Fit health tracking software.

Big vision, big questions
As we know, even a company with the reputation, cash and proprietary user base enjoyed by Apple is far from a shoo-in for consumer health data dominance. (Consider the fate of Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health.) Its previous successes have come, as noted, by creating a channel then dominating that channel, but there’s no guarantee it can pull off such a trick this time.

For one thing, the wearables market is highly fragmented, and Apple is far from being the leader. (According to one set of stats, Fitbit had 25.4% of the global wearables market as of Q2 ’16, Xiaomi 14%, and Apple just 7%.) That doesn’t bode well for starting a health tracker-based revolution.

On the other hand, though, Apple did manage to create and dominate a channel in the music business, which is also quite resistant to change and dominated by extremely entrenched powers that be. If any upstart healthcare player could make this happen, it’s probably Apple. It will be interesting to see whether Apple can work its magic once again.

The Fitness Wearable Nobody Knows About

Posted on January 27, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I ran across a great article from Techcrunch that looked at the top 3 wearable vendors and they pointed out that most of us have probably never heard of the #3 wearable on that list. For those following along at home, the top 3 are Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Xiamoi Mi Band.

Everyone in the US has heard about Fitbit and the Apple Watch. However, my guess is that few in the US know about the Xiaomi Mi Band since 97% of its sales are in China. Here’s a look at the breakdown of wearable market share per the Techcrunch article linked above:

According to IDC, market leader Fitbit shipped 4.7 million wearable units in the third quarter, taking a 22.2 percent market share. Apple shipped 3.9 million units, for a 18.6 percent market share, while Xiaomi shipped 3.7 million units, or 17.4 percent of the market.

For all intents and purposes, the Xiaomi product line is very similar to the Fitbit product line. Some might even call it a knock off. The Mi Band originally started with steps, hours of sleep, and calories burned. Now the Mi Band Pulse also does heart rate. Have we heard this story before?

It’s really easy in our US centric minds to forget about what else is happening around the world. That’s particularly true of China which is one of the fastest growing wearable markets out there. I saw that first hand when I met all these Chinese digital health companies at CES. What will be interesting to watch is if and when some of these successful Chinese companies come to the US. We’ll see how they do.

Airstrip’s Apple Watch Implementation of Sense4Baby

Posted on September 10, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Everyone in healthcare has been watching the Apple Watch and Apple just announced the next generation of their watch. As part of the Apple Watch announcement, Dr. Cameron Powell, CMO and Co-Founder of Airstrip was on stage demonstrating the Apple Watch implementation of Sense4Baby (which Airstrip acquired). Rather than try to explain the implementation, it’s much better to see it in action:

EHR Apple Watch Integration

Posted on May 20, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’ve been writing about the coming of the Apple Watch for a long time here at Smart Phone healthcare. Remember when we use to call it the iWatch? I must admit that I hadn’t seen many really interesting healthcare applications on the iWatch. They all felt like retreads of things that were basically accomplished on people’s smart phone and weren’t that much better on the watch.

Today, I might have read about the first healthcare IT application on the Apple Watch that could provide value to healthcare. The announcement came from Kareo and here’s a list of key functionality that they’ve included in the Apple Watch from the Kareo EHR:

  • Secure messaging that allows the user to send, reply, and read messages via dictation. Messages can be sent to staff or patients using Kareo’s secure messaging system, improving overall patient engagement and practice communication.
  • An agenda that allows the provider to quickly reference their schedule and see the status of appointments checked-in, no show, late, checked out, etc., helping reduce wait times and improve practice efficiency.
  • Appointment reminders that can be sent five minutes before the next scheduled appointment. The notification subtly vibrates the watch, indicating that the doctor has an impending appointment.
  • Appointment information that is accessible within a notification or through the agenda, allowing the provider to review details such as the patient’s name, time of appointment, visit type, and reason for the visit.
  • “I’m Running Late” pre-set messages that allow the doctor inform other staff members when they are running behind and how much longer they expect to be. This improves practice communication and enables the front desk to give patients a more accurate wait time estimate.
  • Apple “Glances” that provide a quick overview of key practice metrics, including how many patients are scheduled throughout the day, how many patients are waiting to be seen, and which patients are currently waiting in an exam room.

EHR Apple Watch - Kareo

I’d like to see this in action and look forward to doing so the next time I see Kareo (possibly not until MGMA), but the features have some promise. I could see them being used pretty regularly. Especially the status updates on how many patients are checked in and how many are waiting. That’s really great information that is changing constantly throughout the day. The schedule for the day is great as well.

Kareo had previously announced some features for Google Glass. I liked that they were pushing the envelope, but it didn’t feel like something that doctors would grab onto. I think this Apple Watch implementation has a lot more legs to it. I’ll be interested to hear from Kareo doctors how it works in actual practice.

Full Disclosure: Kareo is a sponsor of one of the Healthcare Scene blogs.

Other mHealth Apps for the Apple Watch

Posted on April 29, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m already on the recorder that I don’t think that the Apple Watch is going to be a game changer for healthcare. After it’s launch I still believe that to be the case. In fact, I’m not sure if it will be a game changer for anything (not just healthcare). It’s an interesting novelty item and some elements of the interface are cute. The marketing is great as would be imagined from Apple, but they’re selling the sizzle and not the steak.

With that perspective out of the way, I was intrigued by this MacWorld article that lists 5 outside the box health apps for the Apple Watch. They basically said outside the box was something beyond heart rate (not a very high bar). Here’s what they listed:

WebMD – This is not their database of education. It’s a medication reminder, tracking and medication schedule app.

Skin – This app lets you scan your skin for areas of concern and then you can preview the scan on your watch. The app also evaluates the skin. I guess that’s one way to track changes in your skin over time.

ReSound Smart – This app controls your smart hearing adds and adjusts the volume, noise filters, etc. It also uses geotagged locations to adjust the settings automatically (something that likely works with your phone too).

Clue – This app helps women track their periods and get a full overview of their cycles. The watch app is mostly for accessing the data as opposed to entering the data.

BACtrack – Connects to a smart beathalyzer to give you an idea of your blood-alochol level. Also, reminds you after 15 minutes to do another test to get a more accurate result.

The ReSound Smart app is the most interesting one to me on this list. Although, my biggest problem with it is that it has a limited use case. You have to have hearing aids and you have to have smart hearing aids. I’m sure it’s a great product for people with hearing aids and no doubt I’d love something like it if I was in that situation but I’m not so it’s hard for me to really measure its value.

The rest of them didn’t seem all that interesting. Medication reminders is going to work well on the watch, so it’s good that WebMD is doing it, but we’re going to see that from 100 providers. Plus, is it that much better on the watch than to the smartphone itself?

I love interesting apps like this list provides, but I’m not seeing any game changers on this list of Apple Watch health apps.

Apple Watch and Other Apple News

Posted on September 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yesterday you probably heard that Apple came out with the new iPhone 6, Apple Pay, and the new Apple Watch. The iPhone 6 wasn’t terribly exciting. They have some new form factors that are similar to what Samsung’s been doing with the Android and will be a pain for developers who have to deal with multiple form factors. The iPhone 6 also has a bunch more storage.

Apple Pay is an interesting announcement since it has the chance to really change the way we pay for things. I’m still torn on how retailers and consumers will adopt the technology, but it’s a big bet and could really revolutionize the way we buy things. Our phone literally could become our credit card like many have envisioned for a long time. Of course, the recent iCloud leaked celebrity nude photos was bad timing for the announcement that Apple wants you to use your iPhone as your credit card. In reality, they are two very different security issues, but for the consumer that will get lost in the discussion.

The bigger news from a health standpoint is the Apple Watch (they chose not to go with the iWatch name). As you’d expect from Apple, the design is beautiful and well thought out. They’ve added a scroll wheel on the side to do things like zoom and also can be pressed to go to the home screen. Hard to say how functional this feature really will be until we get a chance to try it.

The Apple Watch does have some health features, but it basically feels like a Fitbit, Fuelband (discontinuted), or Jawbone on your arm. It does have a heart rate sensor and accelerometor. I thought they’d probably announce more health features. So, that was a disappointment. Maybe they are working on other health features, but they didn’t announce them. The Apple Watch doesn’t come out until early 2015 and will have a $349 price point.

I expect that many will buy the Apple Watch, but they’ll do it more for the status of the watch than the functionality. The smartwatch space hasn’t done all that great. Will the Apple Watch change that dynamic? It doesn’t feel like enough for me to want to go back to wearing a watch. Apple is leading with style and so they’ll get some uptake, but I’d like to see a little more substance.