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Apple's HealthKit will join medical trials -- report

Stanford and Duke will use the new platform to track blood-sugar levels, blood pressure, weight, and other health measurements.


Apple's HealthKit, which enables health-related apps to share data with doctors, will be used in medical trials at two universities, according to a new report.

Stanford University Hospital and Duke University are organizing health trials that will rely on HealthKit to collect and disseminate data on participants' health metrics, Reuters reported Monday. Stanford will use HealthKit to track blood sugar in children with diabetes, while Duke will use the platform to track a wide range of measurements, including weight and blood pressure, in patients with cancer or heart disease, according to Reuters.

Apple unveiled HealthKit in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference. The platform is designed for app developers that want to collect health information or disseminate it. Apple envisions the technology being used in tandem with its hardware to collect health information and then have that data sent off to doctors, with a patient's permission.

Apple's HealthKit stores a patient's health information in a centralized location that no one can access without the user's permission. Once that permission is granted, however, Apple believes it could go a long way in improving health care and the ways in which doctors receive data about a patient's health.

Apple is by no means alone in its hope of playing a central role in the crossroads between technology and health. A report in June suggested that Apple, Samsung and Google are examining ways in which they could use wearable technology, sensors, and their own software to deliver relevant, accurate data on a patient to doctors. They were specifically focused on diabetes, according to the report.

Tracking diabetes has proven to be vexing for many companies. While several health-related firms have tried to use sensors and technology to track a person's blood sugar non-invasively, nearly all have failed at providing accurate information. The tried and true method of pricking a finger and checking glucose levels in blood is still best practice.

Google has arguably gone the furthest in trying to overcome that issue. The company earlier this year showed off a contact lens designed to measure glucose levels and tell people whether there is cause for concern. That product, however, is nowhere near launch, and Google hasn't said when it might be able to bring it to the market.

In the Stanford trials on diabetes, children will have their glucose levels measured and have that information shared with an iPod Touch. From there, the information will be shared through HealthKit with doctors. Stanford argues that the data will be shared more quickly through HealthKit and effectively sidestep the drawn-out process of calling or faxing information on a patient's condition. Duke is hoping for the same with its own trials.

Apple is working with both universities on their trials, according to Reuters. In addition, several medical device makers that have plans to integrate HealthKit into their products, including DexCom and Epic, are also participating. If all goes well, Apple could make some inroads into the health field.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.