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Apple Health App Will Change Your Healthcare Marketing Plan

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

heart healthWith over 31,000 health and wellness mobile applications already available, you might think the marketplace is saturated. But wait. Apple—you know, the iPhone folks—just arrived at the techno party. And we’ll bet bagels to bytes that an Error Code will be flashing on your healthcare marketing plan.

This week the consumer products icon revealed part of its health initiative at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014. Health, a personalized mobile app platform (Health for consumers; HealthKit for developers) that will be able to track and aggregate a range of personal wellness data such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, nutrition, sleep, respiratory rate, physical activity, weight, and other info.

(To clarify, the Health app, with the cross-platform data sharing capability will be available with the public release of iOS8 in the Fall. iOS8 is now in Beta. Developers have the HealthKit tools, announced at the WWDC event.)Apple Health App

But there's more. No less than the prestigious Mayo Clinic is a partner with Apple. “Health allows clinicians at the Mayo Clinic to send health information to a user's app, which can in turn send that data to a user's primary physician,” according to CNN Money.

And from the Apple event: “With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness. For example, your blood pressure app could share its data with a physician app, such as the Mayo Clinic app, so your doctor can provide high-quality guidance and care." (It's an easy guess that similar medical monitoring and physician notification arrangements will follow, between heart patients and cardiologists, for example.)

“We believe Apple’s HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people,” said John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic president and CEO. “We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app.”

Long-term, the news is more than revealing a clever app or an updated-but-existing product. Apple Inc. has made a serious business commitment to the health, wellness and fitness world. Along with Samsung and others, they appreciate that the consumer health space is large and growing. About one in three smartphone and tablet owners (about 56 million adults) already use their devices to monitor health, diet or exercise, according to a Kantar Media study.

Why Apple will soon touch your marketing plan...

The Apple news presents the HealthKit to software developers, and new applications and hardware devices (in addition to similar existing) will quickly emerge. We need to wait to see the form and format, but Apple, Samsung and others are already putting the electronic works in place for an ongoing digital-data dialog.

The Mayo Clinic app and others are among the early leaders. It may not be tomorrow, but as we look over the horizon, healthcare facilities and providers will establish a communications channel (and data exchange) that directs branding, marketing and clinical messages to precise and individual audiences. HealthKit is a catalyst for change in consumer behavior, telemedicine and traditional healthcare delivery in part because:

This is Apple, Inc. Apple does big, innovative business moves. Consider as one parallel example that, in a relatively short time, a turn in Apple’s focus sparked a revolution in the recorded music industry that, among other things, virtually eliminated brick-and-mortar retail “record stores.” The weight of the Apple being involved assures that healthcare will continue to change with technology.

This is patient-centric. The Internet has increasingly empowered patients, prospective patients and the public in general with online medical education…and a heightened interest in personal wellness. Consumer electronics are bringing the doctor-patient connection closer and in near real-time.

This is personal. More than simply activity reporting, HealthKit enables a comprehensive platform and data conduit to further the convergence of individual data and meaningful Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology.

Messaging to the specific audience segment. The further evolution of apps in delivery and care can increasingly impact mobile users who have self-identified concerns about preventative care, diabetes and/or medication adherence.*

Improved patient experience. Further benefits include providing patients with automatic appointment alerts and reminders.*

Doctors prescribe mobile apps. Upwards of 90 percent of physicians would recommend a mobile health app; over 90 percent believe that such apps can improve a patient outcomes. [* eClinicalWorks survey/infographic]

Please comment on this post. What does your crystal ball reveal? How do you see wellness and healthcare converging with mobile technology and immediate feedback?

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