Report: Apple talking to United, Humana about HealthKit

By Jonah Comstock
08:26 am

Epic hospitals Healthkit

As Apple's official launch of iOS 8 -- and with it Apple's Health app and HealthKit developer toolkit, HealthKit is looking more and more like a broad partner play. It was already known that Apple is working with EHR vendors and hospitals -- Epic and the Mayo Clinic were announced with HealthKit at WWDC, and rumors have since surfaced that the company is working with Allscripts, as well as Johns Hopkins, Mt. Sinai, and the Cleveland Clinic.

Now a report from Bloomberg discloses that the consumer electronics company is also in discussion with payers, namely UnitedHealth and Humana, citing executives at each of the insurance companies as sources. The Bloomberg report puts the deal in the context of employee wellness -- the article is about employers giving insurance discounts to workers who track their daily steps with an activity tracker and can show they lost weight. 

HealthKit promises to aggregate data from health and wellness devices and apps into one dashboard app that comes preloaded in iOS 8. It will then be able to share that aggregated data out with applications that the user approves, a functionality that will allow it to send data to EHRs like Epic and Allscripts. But that same functionality could more easily and consistently share employees' fitness data with their employers or insurance companies, bolstering programs like the ones described in the Bloomberg article.

Both Humana and UnitedHealthcare have been focused on the mobile space for some time. Humana's employee wellness initiative, Humana Vitality, was bolstered by the insurer's acquisition of Healthrageous, a mobile health engagement company that spun out of Partners HealthCare in Boston. Just recently, Humana released data showing that users who were unengaged with the program over two years spent an average of $53 per month more in claims costs and had a 56.3 percent higher unexplained absence rate from work than engaged users.

UnitedHealthcare, meanwhile just launched a new mobile app this summer. Among other things, Health4Me includes features that HealthKit could make redundant -- tracking and viewing exercise and biometrics. Users can also find healthcare facilities in their area and compare prices for 520 medical services across 290 episodes of care so they can better estimate their healthcare expenses.

Some have suggested that the looming launch of HealthKit was a factor in Aetna's decision to shut down its CarePass platform, which had the similar goal of collecting all the health and wellness data on a user's smartphone into a single app. It could be that whatever plans Aetna had for leveraging CarePass for employee wellness and health tracking could be accomplished via HealthKit, instead.


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