Apple is focused on health care more than ever before, and if recent rumors hold any weight, the iPhone could become an essential component of your future visits to the doctor’s office.
The company’s fledgling health care unit reportedly has a team pursuing an ambitious goal: to build a clinical data and record keeping platform for the iPhone. The project aims to create a system that would give every user a unified health profile for easy access to information about every check-up, test result, prescription, and more, essentially putting your entire medical history right in your pocket.
A platform like this could help to solve the health care industry’s data sharing problems by making it easier to exchange information, which is referred to as “interoperability.” It would conceivably bring order to the jumbled, disparate systems that currently manage our medical histories, which are typically scattered across the records systems of multiple physician’s offices and hospitals rather than one centralized location.
The team is reaching out to “developers, hospitals, and other industry groups” to bring them into the fold, according to CNBC, which cites a half-dozen people familiar with the project in its report.
A platform like this would require an entirely new cloud-based system to host all that data, and one of CNBC’s sources claimed that the Apple team is scouting start-ups in the space for potential acquisitions. Picking one of those companies won’t be a matter of cost, since Apple has more than $250 billion of cash on hand; instead, finding the perfect fit to manage the system will be more important.
The Apple team has had discussions with multiple groups that are already working to create a more unified system for health records, according to the sources. They specifically named The Argonaut Project, which aims to cement interoperability standards across the industry and The Carin Alliance, which is focused on improving consumer access to their digital health records.
A shift in focus
The sources told CNBC that the work represents a shift in Apple’s health care strategy, which has thus far been centered on fitness tracking and wellness with the Apple Watch and the iPhone’s HealthKit.
That’s not to say that work has been unsuccessful; the Apple Watch made headlines recently after it was used as a platform to detect a common heart abnormality more accurately than conventional methods, and a non-invasive glucose monitoring prototype spotted on Tim Cook’s wrist could make the wearable an essential medical device for millions. But bringing a revolutionary health care feature to the iPhone, the most popular smartphone in the U.S., could make the company a heavy hitter in the industry immediately.
Apple declined to comment on CNBC’s report, and its reps didn’t respond to our requests for additional information.