Apple Inc iOS 8 HealthKit already in testing at 60 percent of top 23 U.S. hospitals

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An exclusive report by Reuters noted that 14 of the top 23 hospitals in the U.S. have already rolled out a pilot program using Apple's iOS 8 Health app, or "are in talks to do so."

Christina Farr wrote for the news service that most of the nation's leading hospitals have already adopted Apple's Health app to help doctors to remotely monitor patients with "such chronic conditions as diabetes and hypertension."

By tracking and reporting patients' weight, blood pressure, heart rate and other factors, physicians can "watch for early signs of trouble and intervene before a medical problem becomes acute," while hospitals also "avoid repeat admissions, for which they are penalized under new U.S. government guidelines, all at a relatively low cost."

Apple first unveiled iOS 8's new Health app last summer at its Worldwide Developer Convention, noting that it had already teamed up with medical records providers Allscripts and Epic Systems and other healthcare firms to support its adoption.

Health was released in late September as part of iOS 8.0.2. The Health app works with iOS 8's new HealthKit framework for developers, enabling various devices and apps to centrally pool and secure their health-related data, ranging from body metrics to fitness, nutrition intake, sleep cycles and vital signs.

Google subsequently introduced its own implementation of Health for Android called "Google Fit," and Samsung told Reuters it was working with hospitals "to develop mobile health technology."

However, while a variety of leading hospitals are already working with Apple on Health, Reuters stated that "Google and Samsung had started discussions with just a few of these hospitals."

The report also noted that "Apple's move into mobile health tech comes as the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare reform efforts aim to provide incentives for doctors to keep patients healthy. The aim is to move away from the 'fee for service' model, which has tended to reward doctors for pricey procedures rather than for outcomes."

Reuters also stated that Apple "recruited informal industry advisors, including Rana and John Halamka, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, to discuss health data privacy and for introductions to the industry."

The report described Apple as having an "'incredible team' of experts in health and fitness" and said it "was talking to medical institutions, healthcare and industry experts on ways to deliver its services."