Apple and Amazon are all over healthcare

CNBC noticed Amazon quietly launched a partnership in August with OTC manufacturer Perrigo to create their Basic Care line of products. While Amazon may not be the ideal fix for when you need that bottle of cold medicine ASAP, the company could be in a good position to corner the market on products that are bought in bulk like nicotine gum. Apple’s healthcare foray is more tech-focused: they’re developing the next attempt at personal, electronic health records. The idea is to use patients’ smartphones as the unified repository for health records that could otherwise be scattered across healthcare providers. More complete records and data could drive recommendations for care, and could even translate into partnerships with pharma companies to pitch their products directly to consumers fitting a certain profile.

Adding to the core of Apple

Welcome. Your Apple doctor will see you now. It’s no secret that Apple likes healthcare. Think Apple Watch for healthcare, think HealthKit, think ResearchKit, and somewhere down the line you might have to think about physician clinics. According to always fuzzy “sources,” Apple’s health team has discussed expanding into the primary care sector for more than a year. Building apps is one thing, but running a brick-and-mortar physician clinic is quite different, or is it? Apple seems pretty good at running retail stores and enhancing the customer experience. BTW, we tried so hard to keep from using “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We tried. All we want is the option to use an iTunes gift card for the co-pay.

Apple’s top secret plan for diabetes

A secret team at Apple, made up of around 30 tech and biomedical experts, is working on a program that would use the Apple Watch as a sensor “that can noninvasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes,” according to three bean-spillers close to the project. This was envisioned by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs prior to his death. The project has been ongoing for at least five years, and is reportedly run now by Apple’s SVP of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji. How would something like this work? Good question. According to a CNBC article, the program would “[shine] a light through the skin to measure indications of glucose.” It’s like something Q would create – for a diabetic 007.

4. A Gliimpse into the future

IPhone owners may have a new tool at their disposal in the near future. Gliimpse, an app that allows users to store, update and share personal health data, is reported to have been purchased by tech giant Apple. While Apple hasn’t disclosed the purchase price or their intentions with the app, some believe they will make a run at offering something previously failed by Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault – personal health records. Whereas previous PHRs required users to manually input data from multiple sources, Gliimpse seeks to address the issue by aggregating information across multiple platforms. Matthew Holt, founder of the Health 2.0 conference, said that the app was “good at taking unstructured data in a variety of formats and presenting it in a readable way.”

5. There’s an app for THAT??

Those in the know know Apple wants to become a big player in the healthcare industry.  Apple’s prior release of HealthKit and ResearchKit paved the way for this week’s release of CareKit, a platform that lets developers create applications to help users keep track of specific symptoms or medical progress then share that information with physicians.  Apple has taken special care to require developers to protect the privacy of the medical information stored on the phone and when that information is transferred to a doctor.  The first four applications were introduced this week.  Patients with diabetes and depression can find tools to help them learn and track their symptoms.  New mothers and pregnant women can take advantage of CareKit apps to help with their bundle of joy or bundle-to-be.