Google Fit, Apple’s HealthKit and WebMD’s Healthy Target enter the digital health realm with one strikingly similar idea: providing a centralized place for users to track health metrics and aggregating that data.
Prior to this year, Apple and WebMD have not made targeted efforts to streamline health tracking across different platforms. While Google made an attempt in 2008 with Google Health, a personal health records service, it was unsuccessful. Recent trends such as the big data revolution, increased pressure to cut healthcare costs, and the meteoric growth of the digital health industry have made the environment more conducive to healthcare innovation.
What does this mean for Klio Health?
The media is quick to speculate, freely pouring in their grim prognoses for healthcare startups. That, however, is far from true - Klio sees several opportunities to benefit:
1. The digital health market has been further validated
The fact that Apple, Google and WebMD are keen to enter the healthcare industry proves that digital health is not an ephemeral trend that can be blown away by a gust of wind: it is here to stay. Clearly, the larger players in tech now also recognize the potential of IT solutions to increase efficiency and lower costs in healthcare. This validation helps Klio and other startups in developing hospital and clinic partnerships.
2. Collaboration, not competition
It is easy to see a company like Apple as competition to digital health startups simply because they are operating in the same space, but it is important to distinguish substitute from complement. With corporations like Apple and Google providing the infrastructure to support an ecosystem of different tools and applications that share data with each other, startups can now capitalize on that framework to create innovative new services that consume that data. For example, with HealthKit’s API, Klio has easier access to passively-collected data such as activity levels and sleep quality that can be placed in context of a patient’s self-reported information regarding the symptoms and treatments of a particular chronic condition.
3. They need us
As has been shown with the success of Apple’s App Store, any ecosystem needs a community of innovators. In HealthKit’s case, Apple realizes that alone, it could not adequately address issues as complex and wide-ranging as administrative workflow, care delivery, electronic medical records, patient data capture and telemedicine on its own, much less develop tools that target specific condition areas or patient populations. With their unique offerings, companies large and small create value for the ecosystem. By bringing patient-generated health data into a clinical context, Klio makes the data available through HealthKit actionable for care providers.
What is next?
The industry is shifting. For too long, innovators in digital health have neglected to fully consider the use of health tracking solutions beyond the “worried well” demographic. For healthcare innovation to truly have impact, companies will also need to address populations that consume the most services and resources. While Apple and Google are just starting to realize that there is more to healthcare than nurturing the worried well with health tracking applications, Klio has already recognized the opportunity in improving health outcomes by bringing patient-generated information into the context of managing chronic conditions.