Healthkit is a symptom of tech's rush into health care

HealthKit

Apple is talking to hospitals about a "HealthKit" where all your information is stored into the cloud. 

There’s already a lot of buzz building around the iPhone 6, which is expected to be announced in SeptemberWord is that Apple will use its newest phone, and the accompanying release of iOS 8, to make a big push into mobile health. 

The tech giant is reportedly trying to team up with healthcare providers and mobile app developers to track everything from our blood pressure to how many steps we take in a day.

Apple’s not the only company getting into the space. Health care is becoming a hot spot for tech companies. Two of the biggest factors driving tech companies into health care are the smartphone, which is basically a mini computer in your pocket, and the proliferation of cheap sensors, said Dean Sawyer, CEO of Jointly Health

"For example, there’s one patch we’re using called Vital Connect," Sawyer said. "It captures your heart rate, ECG, your respiratory rate, your posture, all from one patch and it’s sending that data out continuously."

Advances in artificial intelligence also make it easier to crunch that data. In Jointly Heath’s case, it uses data to predict when patients with chronic illnesses will get sicker, so doctors can treat them before they land in the hospital. 

Everyone from health care providers to insurers love this because hospital treatments are so expensive, said Michael Chui, who leads research on the impact of information technology for the McKinsey Global Institute.

"The real opportunity here is really around trying to control healthcare costs," he said. 

Chui said the promise of controlling costs is driving demand for this kind of technology among health care providers.

"When we looked at the potential for using big data and other technologies to try to control those costs, we think that up to $300 to $400 billion annually is at stake," he said. 

There’s just as much money to be made as saved. Sawyer of Jointly Health said in his little corner of the market — the "remote patient monitoring space" — there's a projected $18 to $20 billion just over the next four or five years."

Then there’s the job of securing all that data flying around. It’s creating another opportunity for tech companies.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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