Report: Apple talking to major hospitals to integrate HealthKit software

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been speaking with leading hospitals like Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins on how to integrate its HealthKit mobile health software platform with their systems, according to a Reuters report.

The report, which cited unnamed sources, said the iPhone maker is also in discussions with Allscripts, a competitor to electronic health records provider and Apple partner Epic Systems. The discussions might not lead to anything, the report, said, but they underscore Apple's ambitions to make HealthKit a central hub for collecting consumers' fitness and health data.

Apple unveiled HealthKit in June as part of its iOS 8 software platform, which is expected to come preloaded on the next iPhone coming out this fall. Health monitoring is also likely going to be central to Apple's rumored wearable device, dubbed the iWatch, which is also expected to be released this fall.

The HealthKit software is designed to allow applications to contribute to a composite profile of a person's health data. For example, Apple said users can allow data from their blood pressure app to be automatically shared with their doctor or allow a nutrition app to tell fitness apps how many calories a user has consumed each day.

Part of Apple's ambition is to allow doctors to see all of this data--with patients' consent--so they can devise better diagnoses and treatments. 

Other tech companies are also trying to grab a piece of the mobile healthcare market. Last week Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) allowed developers to start tinkering with its Google Fit SDK. Samsung Electronics also recently unveiled a new hardware reference design called Simband that tracks health data like heart rate and blood pressure.

Apple has previously disclosed HealthKit partnerships with Nike, Epic and the Mayo Clinic, which boasts a suite of mobile apps. Epic provides technology at hospitals serving more than 100 million Americans. Apple noted in June that the partnership could let it work with more than 20 other hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai, UCLA Health and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Apple declined to comment, the report said. According to Reuters, dozens of health systems that use Epic's software will be able to integrate health and fitness data from HealthKit into Epic's personal health record, called MyChart. However, HealthKit might not be able to integrate with older IT systems at hospitals and Apple faces a web of regulatory challenges as it seeks to get further enmeshed in the mobile healthcare market.

"Apple is going into this space with a data play," Forrester Research healthcare analyst Skip Snow told Reuters. "They want to be a hub of health data."

Meanwhile, in other Apple rumors, Bloomberg reported that according to unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Apple's suppliers have started making new iPads. Apple is hoping to revive iPad tablet sales, which have slumped in the past two quarters.

The report said that mass production of a new full-sized iPad with a 9.7-inch screen is already underway, and a new version of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is also entering production. Both devices are expected to be available by the end of the year. Interestingly, the report said output of the larger iPad may be hampered by manufacturing issues related to the use of a new anti-reflection coating, which Apple wants to add to make the display easier to read.

Apple is rumored to be planning a media event for Sept. 9 to announce new products.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Verge article

Related Articles:
Apple ships 35.2M iPhones, slightly below expectations
Report: Apple planning for 70-80M units of larger iPhone 6
Report: Apple's iWatch expected in Q4 with a focus on health monitoring
Rumor Mill: Apple's iWatch to debut in October as health-monitoring device
Apple moves into mobile healthcare with HealthKit software