By Joseph Franz
Apple and Google, two of the tech world’s biggest players, both announced recently that they plan to move into the health care industry. Due to spiraling health care costs and new incentives from the Affordable Care Act to move medicine toward interconnected electronic communications, the health care data market is booming. And while the move might not be an easy one, it seems clear that the new future of healthcare is just around the corner.
Apple announced in June that it was working with the Mayo Clinic and software vendor Epic Systems – which makes applications for hospital and practice managements as well as electronic healthcare records – to make consumer health sensor readings and data from iPhones and iPads available to them. They have also been talking with health care organizations about the possibility of using the company’s HealthKit services.
Google also plans to enter what figures to be a very competitive race to dominate the future of the healthcare business. They recently unveiled a health care app development kit which will help software developers create a range of digital medical tools. Additionally, upgrades to the Android would help companies integrate the use of sensors, data recording, and health care history to provide mobile apps that could tie into the healthcare system.
One of the biggest driving forces behind this tech push is the issue of effectively exchanging information. Until recently, the healthcare industry has been functioning on an antiquated manual system that is often slow and ineffective. But this is becoming even more of a critical issue considering how many health care providers a patient typically has to deal with (initial diagnosis, testing, hospitalization, surgery, long-term treatment, etc).
Despite the great need in the industry and these tech giants’ willingness to provide solutions, the transition will not be an easy one. The U.S. medical system is fraught with rules and regulations. Companies must comply with a wide range of government agencies, including the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Food and Drug Administration, Medicare, and various other state and federal organizations.
The Department of Health and Human Services have proven to impose large fines on providers with data breaches or that otherwise fail to secure patient records. And while Apple and Google can handle the fines, they risk much more with reputation if their equipment is linked to large-scale problems with keeping patient data confidential. Although both companies have reasonably good records with securing customer information, both have also been subject to hacking and/or outages with their “cloud” services, either of which could be disastrous within the medical record industry.
So as Apple and Google gear up to enter this rapidly growing but highly complicated sector, one can’t help but wonder how long it is until we have an app on our iPad that holds all of our medical records or that even takes our vitals and sends them to our doctor.
At the Encinitas Nursing and Rehabilitation Center we take care to be at the forefront of the newest technology. If you would like to discuss the future of health care further or have any other questions about skilled nursing and rehabilitation, please don’t hesitate to contact us at
or call us at (760) 753-6423.