Is there anything Apple’s iPhone can’t do?
Apple has its eyes set on the health care field, with the release of new iPhone apps that people can use to manage their health. From diabetes, to pregnancies, and even depression, Apple is releasing a plethora of apps covering a range of maladies.
The tech company’s approach to health apps is a little unorthodox. Rather than creating the apps themselves from scratch, Apple created software tools and templates, called “CareKit,” that health-care groups and health-tech startups can employ do develop their own health apps.
Apple’s idea is to help developers build easy-to-use apps for patients to record symptoms, find information, track health in real-time, and even send medical reports to their physicians.
Apps from the CareKit hit online stores this week. Some apps include One Drop for diabetics; Start for people taking anti-depression drugs; and two apps from health startup Glow, aimed at women who are pregnant or caring for newborns.
“These mobile tools can help people reach their health goals,” said Thomas Goetz of Iodine, a startup that used CareKit to create Start. Start utilizes a component of CareKit that allows patients to send reports to doctors. Goetz hopes to expand on that function, giving doctors the opportunity to reply with their instructions for medication, diet or exercise.
Back-end software development that follows federal confidentiality rules will be crucial. Doctors and insurers are skeptical for this reason, which Goetz acknowledged: “[Doctors and insurers] are still trying to make sense of the world of health care apps. They’re trying to understand which ones are valid tools and which aren’t necessarily useful.”
Apple surprisingly doesn’t make profits off the CareKit. If the apps gain momentum and popularity, however, it’s a good bet the iPhone itself will be in even higher demand, especially with those who have medical conditions.
“Even if you can’t point to a revenue stream today, being the hub of an ecosystem related to health care could have great value in the future,” said analyst Jeff Cribbs.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated the company can play a much larger role in health care with their own patented health apps rather than the current model. But, the industry is heavily regulated, and Apple is weary of entering a market where their devices are subject to federal oversight.