After continuous rumors and speculation, Apple finally announced their foray into Healthcare IT at their annual World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) on June 2nd with the announcement of HealthKit and Health App for iOS 8.

Apple’s HealthKit is the product of a partnership between Epic Systems and Mayo Clinic to establish a software framework allowing data from disparate applications to communicate with one other. Epic and Mayo will also be introducing their own apps designed to help personalize and enhance patient engagement. For Epic, this means enabling patients to securely view their “My Chart” Personal Health Record (PHR) from an iPhone, and for Mayo Clinic it means being able to monitor patient functions like blood pressure readings from wearable technology to determine whether the patient needs care and notifying their Provider. Interestingly enough, Mayo Clinic does not use Epic Systems, they are currently using a combination of the GE and Cerner products.

If you’re wondering how this works, HealthKit aggregates the information from different apps utilizing the HealthKit engine, such as data from Epic, Mayo Clinic, Nike, Fitbit, Jawbone and other sources. This information can be used as a proactive Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tool for healthcare providers, and a communication/repository tool for patients. There is also speculation that HealthKit and the Health App will play an integral part in the design of iWatch, Apple’s rumored first wearable technology.

Today, Apple announced a strategic partnership with IBM, which further affirmed Apple’s aggressive plan to penetrate healthcare IT. In an interview with Information Week, IBM’s General Manager of Health Systems, Dan Pelino, said “This really is a case of ‘together, better’ — Apple was not in this space, just like IBM hasn’t been in mobile devices. IBM has the largest security practice in the world, allowing it to offer healthcare organization the assurance that their iOS applications will be security and in compliance with HIPAA privacy protections.” He also revealed that IBM is currently “under the covers in about 80% of Epic installations”.

IBM and Epic are also partners in a bid for the Department of Defense’s DoD Healthcare Management Systems Modernization contract. This partnership will leverage Epic’s expertise in electronic health records (EHR) systems and healthcare organization management, while IBM will contribute its “system integration, change management, and operational expertise in delivering large-scale transformational solutions alongside complementary software and services providers.” Chief Medical Officer at IBM, Dr. Keith Salzman, will be leading the partnership with Epic, with over 20 years of experience in healthcare and medical informatics.

Sources: Forbes, Health IT Outcomes, InformationWeek, HealthcareIT News