HealthKit: a developers perspective

Written on Friday 13th June 2014

It has been almost two weeks now since Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference and more importantly for those in pharma: the announcement of HealthKit for developers and the Health app that will form part of the next major software release for iPhone and iPad (iOS8).

Now that the dust has settled and the fanfare of iOS8 has gone away it seems the perfect opportunity to explore how HealthKit will enable developers to build apps for Pharma. These apps will actually be relevant to users, and offer a real insight into that person’s health and how they can manage their health better.

HealthKit has a huge data set that developers can tap into. Enabling (with the permission of the user) an app to pick up data from HealthKit on anything from basic biometric data, through to fitness and nutritional data. This will allow developers to build apps that can offer more contextual advice to users on how to manage their medical conditions. After all, the more you know about the user, the better the app can understand what is happening to them

HealtKit also accepts the submission of data to the Health app. This means that pharma companies can actively help people manage their health by providing data to the Health app. Or for other apps (perhaps in the Health and Fitness arena) to use this information to help users understand the impact their health is having on their daily lives

With the huge rise in popularity of the health and fitness tracking apps, HealthKit provides a great way for developers to integrate with data being provided by these services without having to link in to them directly. This means users don’t need to worry about the next big fitness tracking app, or which apps are most popular amongst your target demographic. Instead just get the data from HealthKit and make good use of it

The growth in popularity of wearable tech (including speculation of the iWatch) and the development of Bluetooth connected medical sensors positions HealthKit as a central point to connect to. For an app developer, this opens up a huge range of devices and sensors that we could indirectly integrate with

A huge benefit of integrating with HealthKit is that companies can let Apple worry about privacy. Rather than storing sensitive data in the users app or on a web server, 3rd party apps can just access what they need from HealthKit, and only access it when they need it. This means that all the sensitive data is stored in HealthKit and is the responsibility of Apple and the user rather than your companies’ app

Ultimately HealthKit and the Health app are very much in their infancy and there will undoubtedly be enhancements to come, but it is already providing great opportunities for developers and pharma companies alike. There is a real opportunity here for pharma to be at the cutting edge of technology and really make a difference in how people manage and understand their own health on a daily basis and we are looking forward to it!