While Apple (AAPL) has captured media attention recently with a reported project to develop sensors that can help treat diabetes, the company has a broader background with hospitals, doctors’ offices and health care facilities.
Through partnerships with corporations like IBM (IBM) and Aetna (AET) and institutions such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Rochester, Apple is developing an ecosystem of medical care and research apps.
“We think that Apple will become a major player in health care by following its long established practice of availing its unique hardware/software ecosystem and toolkits to third party developers, who will then create new applications to aid the delivery of health care and manage the consumers’ experience,” Moody’s analyst Gerald Granovsky wrote.
Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson has a background in health science. He is the founder and CEO of aging research and development company Calico Labs, is a former chairman and CEO of drug developer Genentech and has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Princeton University. He joined Apple’s board in 2000, when Steve Jobs was CEO.
The company and IBM announced a pact in 2014 to develop iOS apps for health care, retail, banking and a number of other industries. IBM has created seven apps so far, which Granovsky said mostly apply to “managing business processes to improve the workflow of hospitals and health care workers, and reduce operating costs.”
Apple has its own healthcare app development platforms, dubbed ResearchKit, CareKit and HealthKit.
ResearchKit is for research apps that collect medical data. In 2015 University of Rochester and Seattle non-profit research group Sage Bionetworks launched Parkinsons’s research app mPower, which Apple says has conducted the “largest Parkinson’s study in history,” on its web site.
Apples CareKit is for building apps that help users track symptoms to manage their medications and other aspects of care. Johns Hopkins University’s schools of medicine and engineering developed the first iOS app for cardiology last year.
HealthKit SKD fitness develops interfaces that enable health and fitness apps to communicate with each other. An app developed by the Mayo Clinic for its doctors could tap information from an app on a patient’s phone that tracks blood pressure.
Insurer Aetna provides Apple Watches to its own workers and offers subsidies to customers who participate in a program. The insurer is working with Apple to develop apps.
Apple’s health care apps are not likely to move the needle very soon, Granovsky wrote. “However, the move is emblematic of Apple’s efforts to expand its presence in enterprise markets and we do expect that over time, it will help diversify the company’s revenues away from a heavy reliance on consumer replacement cycles of iPhones,” he suggested.
How Apple Is Building an Ecosystem of Health Care and Research Apps