Apple's mHeath Rumors Get Detailed

Posted in Mobile Health by Brian Buntz on March 24, 2014

The rumors surrounding Apple’s health monitoring technology have become so comprehensive that it is hard to deny that the tech giant is up to something in healthcare. Last week, Wired proclaimed that Apple’s entry into the health monitoring space was the “start of something huge.”

The most persuasive evidence that the firm is readying health-related functionality can be found in the company’s meeting with FDA staff in December to discuss a medical device project. And recently, 9to5Mac has received a slew of images it says are screen shots of Healthbook, a health-monitoring app that may be bundled in iOS8.

healthbook
9to5 Mac has published what it refers to as screen shots from Apple's forthcoming Healthbook app.

The screen shots reveal that the software can be used to potentially monitor variables including blood pressure, bloodwork, blood glucose, heart rate hydration, oxygen saturation, activity levels, and food intake. While a number of apps are available to measure health metrics like this, there is currently no single interface that neatly ties them all together to provide a user with a dashboard of their health.

The software’s ability to monitor blood glucose could be a boon to diabetics, helping make it easier for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar on their iDevice.

While the prospect of Apple creating a health dashboard seems almost certain, it is uncertain where the company will source the data: the iPhone, the iWatch, third-party apps, third-party devices, or a combination of the above. In addition, it is also unclear how popular such functionality will be for the general population of Apple customers. While wearables and health-tracking devices have become trendy, they still remain a niche item, and the ability of fitness trackers like the Fitbit to help users stay more active over the long run is uncertain.

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Still, Apple made clear its own intention of entering the activity monitoring space last year with the debut of the iPhone 5s, which includes A7 and M7 processors that facilitate activity monitoring.

The company has also hired fitness expert Jay Blahnik and a number of medical device engineers including Nancy Dougherty of blood-monitoring firm Sano Intelligence and Ravi Narasimhan from medtech startup Vital Connect.

Brian Buntz is the editor-in-chief of MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz and Google+.