Platform Innovation // Blog

HealthKit Will Bring Healthcare into the 21st Century

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With the launch of iOS 8 and Apple’s HealthKit, user-generated health data can be easily shared with other apps.

Because HIPAA does not regulate user-generated data in the same way as data generated by your healthcare provider, Apple is able to turn HealthKit into central repository for your health data in iOS 8. It’s pretty exciting stuff, and it’s primed to change the way we think about healthcare.

What is Apple’s HealthKit? A perfect example of platform dynamics

Think of HealthKit as the pipes connecting your self-generated health information to other software applications that want access to that information. Apple built the pipes to enable the information to be more freely dispersed, with your approval.

There are a variety of medical-device manufacturers who have made their hardware Bluetooth enabled and connected it to an app on your smartphone. One example is a heart-rate sensor. If you’re a physician, you care less about which heart-rate sensor took the reading of your patient’s BPM’s and more about gaining access to that information in the first place. Apple’s HealthKit solves this problem – through a platform of course!

Third-party software developers can now ask you to give their app permission to access your heart-rate information in HealthKit, which reduces search and transaction costs and enables external innovation.

But it doesn’t end there: there are over 70 different categories of health information that Apple has standardized and incorporated into HealthKit.

The HealthKit platform enables new platforms to be built – that’s platforms on top of platforms

Hospitals are exploring new ideas like “care-traffic controllers.” For example, a children’s hospital could hire people to monitor glucose levels and provide individualized care recommendations for diabetic children. When owned by a specific hospital, this is a linear business model.

However, these “care-traffic controller” units could become their own platform business, independent of any individual hospital. The idea would be a monitoring service that uses connected technology with human oversight to provide highly individualized and relevant care recommendations in real time.

What would this look like? Think ZocDoc with a subscription model for its consumers. Using this model, ZocDoc could monetize consumer interactions and create a stickier value proposition by facilitating more interactions between you and a healthcare professional.

Doctors will not be replaced by technology for a very, very long time. The question is how we can use platform business models to optimize and improve how a doctor’s time is spent.

Apple is taking the first step with HealthKit, but there’s still a much bigger opportunity in healthcare. Apple is just building the transport mechanism from the app generating the data to the app that wants access to that data. But someone still needs to offer relevant insights based on that data. Platforms that harness network effects and new data sources will certainly provide a host of breakthroughs.

The good news is that all you’ll need to do is live your life – platforms that plug into HealthKit can take care of the rest.

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