Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cerner and Athenahealth say integrating with Apple's mobile health service

Christina Farr
September 24, 2014
(Reuters) - Cerner Corp and Athenahealth Inc, two leading U.S. electronic health record providers, said on Thursday they are working with Apple Inc to develop applications that leverage Apple's mobile health service HealthKit.

Cerner (Kansas City, MO, USA) and Athenahealth (Watertown, MA, USA) representatives said they are building integrations with HealthKit and working with Apple (Cupetino, CA, USA). Previously, Apple announced a partnership with rival electronic health record company Epic Systems (Verona, WI, USA). Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The goal is to help doctors monitor patients with chronic conditions from home and identify health risks. HealthKit gathers data from various applications and devices, including blood pressure cuffs, accelerometers and glucose measurement systems, and makes it easier for doctors to view it all in one place.

Across the United States, hospitals are rolling out pilots using HealthKit to improve preventative care, and potentially cut costs.

Cerner, Epic and Athenahealth are central to these plans, as the patient-generated data is ultimately stored in the electronic health record.

Both Athenahealth and Cerner have developed mobile applications targeted at patients. HealthKit-compatible versions of these apps will be available on the App Store when Apple fixes a bug that forced health developers to pull their apps on September 17.

Apple said it was working to address the bug. The HealthKit apps will be available by the end of the month.

An Apple spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday about the company's new HealthKit partners.

Athenahealth vice president Abbe Don said the company will use HealthKit to help patients with chronic conditions like diabetes. Cerner senior director Brian Carter said care teams, including doctors and nurses, will be able to access data from HealthKit with patients' consent.

Carter said they will work closely with "focused smaller organizations" to prove the value of the service. He said the initial integration will focus on wellness and preventing the onset of chronic conditions.

Athenahealth's Don said the company will test its "proof of concept" application with one client, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, a non-profit health center based in New York. Don said medical device makers are also working on HealthKit integrations for use in early trials.

"There is an awful lot we can do with HealthKit," she said.

(Reporting by Christina Farr; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Cynthia Osterman)
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