As expected, Apple Inc. in a splashy presentation Tuesday unveiled a suite of sleek new products, including a widely anticipated Apple Watch and an iPhone 6 – both outfitted with a new operating system that includes HealthKit software and a Health app developed in partnership with Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic.
In short, the app is "an easy-to-read dashboard of your health and fitness data," Apple says.
The paired tech industry and health care industry behemoths, who have been working together for two years, aim to get more people using technology to track and improve their personal health and fitness.
Apple and Mayo say the app can collect data itself, in addition to storing data entered by a user – and all the information it collects can be efficiently and privately funneled to a health care provider’s management system, as the Star Tribune reported.
Apple says its new wearable technology will further the evolution of personal health data collection, and ultimately prod users to make better health decisions.
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday touted HealthKit as a tool that integrates health and fitness apps through the Apple Watch while giving consumers control over what health data they choose to share, CBS News reported.
The partnership is potentially a great fit for both companies, Forbes noted. For Apple, Mayo offers instant credibility. For Mayo, Apple offers more access to millions of users and puts it closer to a goal of becoming the nation’s most prominent health system, Forbes notes.
But at least two hurdles emerged for Mayo and Apple as the great unveiling was made Tuesday – the biggest of which was that the companies will have to convince users that the new technology can keep their personal health data private.
As one Politico writer noted Tuesday, "For most of us, up until now, such [health] data have been securely in the care of doctors and health companies, but Apple has tried to reassure customers that their bunions, anti-depressant prescriptions and pap smear results won’t meet the same fate as Jennifer Lawrence’s selfies." (That's a reference to a high-profile data breach last week involving celebrity photos.)
The second hurdle could be convincing consumers that there's real value in wearable health data collection.
One report, from a consultant group called Endeavour Partners, noted that a “dirty little secret” is that half the consumers who are already buying "wearables" stopped using the devices after two years.
“Users quickly abandon wearables that don't help them make positive changes,” the report says.
Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is also among the doubters, Modern Healthcare reported.
“I'm skeptical that collecting tons and tons of data and putting it in front of physicians is magically going to change the quality of the U.S. healthcare system,” Carroll told the publication.