Apple's HealthKit and the Era of the Connected Patient

This article is part of ParkerWhite’s weekly series, “Health and Wellness This Week,” a roundup of the latest healthcare marketing news and what it means for your marketing strategy.With the much-anticipated release of the Apple Watch and the introduction of the HealthKit with iOS8, the healthcare industry is facing a new era of connected patients. These technologies are expected to be big players in the mobile health movement and the transformation of the patient experience. There are already more than 900 health, medical, and fitness apps integrated with Apple’s HealthKit. Patients are able to monitor their health and fitness on a regular basis, that places them in the driver’s seat of their health and wellness.

This week in health and wellness:

  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center adopts the Apple HealthKit and introduces it to 80,000 of its patients
  • Apple partners with IBM for a cloud-based platform to collect consumer health data
  • A hospital gives Apple Watch to its patients to test its effectiveness in preventative measures

Apple’s HealthKit Linked to Patients at Big Los Angeles Hospital

This Bloomberg Business article discusses the recent Cedars-Sinai Hospital announcement of updating its online medical records in order to allow more than 80,000 of its patients to access Apple’s HealthKit. “The change at Cedars-Sinai allows patients using HealthKit to integrate personal medical information with their patient files, giving online access to their doctors. Weight, blood pressure, steps taken, glucose levels and oxygen saturation levels are among the kinds of data monitored through HealthKit”. So far, this has been the largest hospital integration of Apple’s new HealthKit.

Marketing Strategy Insights:

  • Ease-of-use will be one of the key factors determining the level of adoption and utilization of health apps
  • The introduction of wearables to hospitals may create a new channel that advertisers can utilize to promote products to targeted users
  • As more hospitals start adopting these technologies, companies must continue to innovate and improve the effectiveness of their products to gain market share and grow consumer adoption

Apple Partners With IBM on New Health Data Analysis

This article from CNET covers the recent partnership between Apple and IBM as IBM unveils its new cloud-based platform, the Watson Health Cloud. This platform “allows health researchers to not only store and share patient data, but also provide access to IBM's data mining and analytics capabilities”. This process of analyzing the updated insights collected by numerous patients is expected to assist doctors and researchers in understanding the patients’ lifestyles. The ResearchKit apps are expected to be the essential tools behind this process. Apple spokesmen stated that “the first wave of ResearchKit-based apps, which are designed to be used for studying asthma, diabetes, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and Parkinson's disease, have so far enrolled over 60,000 iPhone users”.

Marketing Strategy Insights:

  • Fitness and health monitoring apps will continue to grow over the next several years as consumers start relying on them. However, it is essential that these apps provide accurate and reliable information in order to sustain their growth
  • Healthcare companies need to find ways to connect with consumers in ways that provide meaningful differentiators to directly target the users’ specific needs
  • User safety is a critical element that needs to be addressed as more personal data will be mined and saved in cloud platforms

A Hospital Is Already Giving Apple Watch To Its Patients

This Forbes Business article discusses how doctors at Ochsner Health System are distributing Apple Watches to their patients who suffer from high blood pressure to see if it will motivate them to make changes in their lifestyle and take their medication on time. Richard Milani, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, states “potential opportunity is huge: More than 80% of U.S. health care spending goes toward chronic diseases and many of those diseases are exceedingly preventable.” Therefore, he is hoping that these new wearables, such as the Apple Watch, will hold patients more accountable for their health in order to prevent future chronic diseases. Already, some patients are providing their feedback on using the Apple Watch and how they enjoy the monitoring aspect of it and that it motivates them to be more proactive about their diet and fitness.

Marketing Strategy Insights:

  • In order for patients to maximize the potential benefits of the Apple Watch, they will need to be educated on how to use it and all of its specific features, or else, they will eventually lose interest
  • The patients, doctors, and hospitals are three major consumer segments in this mobile health industry. They have various needs, wants, and processes. Therefore, segmentation will be critical to better target each one of these customer groups
  • Hospitals may be rebranding their facilities by integrating these wearables in daily practices to encourage patients to utilize them and take preventative measures in their healthcare
Apple's HealthKit and the Era of the Connected Patient - PW