Report: Apple is exploring custom health sensor tech

Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) may be looking to develop its own health sensor chip technology, according to a new report from CNBC.

The tech giant posted a job opening in mid July looking for “sensor ASIC architects to develop ASICs for new sensors and sensing systems for future Apple products,” according to the report.

A separate posting from August showed that Apple is looking for someone to “help develop health, wellness, and fitness sensors,” according to CNBC. An additional earlier posting from June mentioned that the company was also looking to continue working with optical sensors, which the company currently uses to measure heart rate.

Currently, Apple uses sensor-connected technology from Broadcom in its Apple Watch product, but may be looking to develop its own chip as a way to protect its IP from third-party developers, according to the report.

The hires don’t absolutely point to new tech, however, and could be related to the company’s existing biosensor technology, according to CNBC.

Apple has not officially commented on the matter.

In June, Reports emerged showing that Apple had submitted a patent application for a wearable blood pressure monitoring cuff.

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Apple opens EHR data to iOS app developers

Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) this week opened up its Health Records application to developers, allowing digital health companies to use electronic health record data to power applications on Apple’s iOS devices.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant originally opened the Health Records application for general use in March, allowing users of certain cooperating healthcare systems direct access to their electronic health records.

With the new Health Records API release, developers will now be able to use that electronic health data – with an individual’s consent – to create applications that aid in disease management, medical research and other purposes, the company said.

Medisafe, a medication management application, will use integrated EHR data to allow users to import their prescription list without the need for manual entry, identify problematic drug-drug interactions, set reminders and view applicable medication data.

“Medical information may be the most important personal information to a consumer, and offering access to Health Records was the first step in empowering them. Now, with the potential of Health Records information paired with HealthKit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health. With the Health Records API open to our incredible community of developers and researchers, consumers can personalize their health needs with the apps they use every day,” COO Jeff Williams said in a press release.

Health Records data is encrypted on iOS devices, Apple specified, and allows users to share data directly with selected trusted applications, without the data leaving the device.

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HRS 2018 Roundup: Device-related blood clots with Boston Scientific’s Watchman implant

Data from a study of device-related blood clots and the Watchman cardiac implant made by Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), presented today at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston, indicate the need for aggressive management of patients at risk for device-related thrombosis.

There were 74 incidences of DRT in 65 of the 1,739 Watchman patients examined in the study, or 3.7%; eight of those patients had multiple DRTs and two experienced embolic events (0.45%). There was no significant difference in mortality between patients with DRT and those without, according to the study.

Lead author Dr. Vivek Reddy, of New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, told that the overall incidence of DRT for Watchman in the study was 3.7% using the FDA-approved strategy for anti-coagulation drugs. The surprise, Reddy told us, was the high rate of ischemic stroke in the DRT population.

“It’s surprising, not from a patho-physiological conceptual perspective, but it’s surprising because when we looked at this very early in Protect AF, again a small number of the patients in a relatively small follow-up, we did see that the subsequent stroke rate was a little bit higher, but certainly nothing like this,” he said. “We knew it was important, we knew that you had to do surveillance, we knew that if you see it you need to treat it, but we didn’t expect it to be this high.

“I think what this tells me, is that one has to be aggressive about dealing with device-related thrombus,” Reddy said, noting that it’s less clear how to proceed over the long term than in acute cases.

“It’s pretty clear how you treat it acutely – you give anticoagulation and let it dissolve,” he explained. “What’s less clear, though, is what do you do long-term after that. I think that what I would recommend, not that we have definitive data on this yet, but what I would recommend is aggressive surveillance in those patients who had device-related thrombus. I would recommend that some of them will probably require longer-term anticoagulation. That’s my guess.

“These data I don’t think take away from the argument that Watchman is a reasonable strategy. It doesn’t add or detract from the previous data. What it does do though is, I think it hones in and says when you have this you have to treat those patients aggressively,” Reddy told us.

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Google, Fitbit ink collab healthcare deal, look to challenge Apple Watch

Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) yesterday announced plans for a health-care collaboration with Google (NSDQ:GOOG), giving Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) and its Apple Watch more competition in the mobile health monitor market.

The wearable developer plans to use Google’s Cloud healthcare API for further healthcare system integration, which could allow FitBit activity data to be integrated with electronic medical records for more personalized care, Fitbit said.

“Over the past decade, we have built an incredible foundation as the leading wearables brand, helping millions of people around the world make lasting behavior changes that improve their health and wellness through fun and engaging experiences. Working with Google gives us an opportunity to transform how we scale our business, allowing us to reach more people around the world faster, while also enhancing the experience we offer to our users and the healthcare system. This collaboration will accelerate the pace of innovation to define the next generation of healthcare and wearables,” Fitbit co-founder & CEO James Park said in a prepared statement.

Both companies will also aim to improve management for chronic conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, through the use of services like Twine Health, which Fitbit recently acquired. Fitbit said that using the cloud platform will also allow it to scale more quickly and more properly protect user privacy.

“At Google, our vision is to transform the way health information is organized and made useful. By enabling Fitbit to connect and manage key health and fitness data using our Google Cloud Healthcare API, we are getting one step closer to this goal. Together, we have the opportunity to deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment,” Google Cloud healthcare VP Dr. Gregory Moore said in a press release.

Last month, the American Medical Association said it would partner with Google to launch the AMA Health Care Interoperability and Innovation Challenge designed to support mobile health technology that improves monitoring and care in the management of chronic diseases.

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Medtech’s existential crisis and how it can survive

The new EY report even includes an equation to show how medtech and other life science companies will need to deliver value: “Future value (FV) is driven by innovation (I) that focuses on outcomes with a high degree of personalization and is fueled
by unlocking the power of data (D.” [Image courtesy of EY]

Executives in medtech and other life sciences companies view digital health startups and high tech giants as an existential threat. To compete, they’re going to have to invest in or acquire customer engagement and personalization skills usually associated with online retailers and social networking sites, according to a new report out today from EY.

The report — Life Sciences 4.0: Securing value through data-driven platforms — quotes Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky to indicate where things are going:  “Technology will touch everything that we do, whether it’s the way we use data to better understand the genome … or as it applies to things like minimally invasive surgery, even the way we talk to consumer vis-à-vis social media.”

Technology isn’t the only factor driving the change. Aging populations in the developed world mean that both public and private payers are tackling budgetary constraints and longstanding inefficiencies in healthcare systems.

In the medical device industry, companies are having to decide whether they are products companies selling to health providers or services companies focused on patients as a customer, according to the report’s author, Pamela Spence,  EY Global Life Sciences industry leader.

“I think companies need to decide what they want to be. … It’s hard to do both,” Spence said during an interview with our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.

Get the full story on MDO. 

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Apple continues its foray into healthcare, puts select EHR data on iPhone devices


Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) said this week it is introducing a feature allowing customers to obtain, view and keep medical records on their iPhones, continuing the company’s experimentation into the healthcare market.

Electronic health records will be available within the company’s Health application, with 12 different healthcare organizations already agreeing to make their records available to current customers.

Records viewable on the mobile devices were created based on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standards, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said. Medical data stored on iPhone devices are encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Apple said.

“Our goal is to help consumers live a better day. We’ve worked closely with the health community to create an experience everyone has wanted for years — to view medical records easily and securely right on your iPhone. By empowering customers to see their overall health, we hope to help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a press release.

Participating medical institutions include Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Medicine, Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai, Philadelphia’s Penn Medicine, Danville, Penn.’s Geisinger Health System, San Diego’s UC San Diego Health, Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, Dignity Health, Jefferson Parish, La.’s Ochsner Health System, MedStar Health, Columbus, Ohio’s OhioHealth and Kansas City’s Cerner Healthe Clinic, Apple said.

“Streamlining information sharing between patients and their caregivers can go a long way towards making the patient experience a positive one. This is why we are excited about working with Apple to make accessing secure medical records from an iPhone as simple for a patient as checking email,” Johns Hopkins Medicine CIO Stephanie Reel said in a prepared statement.

“Putting the patient at the center of their care by enabling them to direct and control their own health records has been a focus for us at Cedars-Sinai for some time. We are thrilled to see Apple taking the lead in this space by enabling access for consumers to their medical information on their iPhones. Apple is uniquely positioned to help scale adoption because they have both a secure and trusted platform and have adopted the latest industry open standards at a time when the industry is well positioned to respond,” Cedars-Sinai CIO Darren Dworkin said in prepared remarks.

Last month, Apple was reported to be developing an in-house ECG for its Apple Watch that would compete with the recently approved KardiaBand made by AliveCor.

Report: Doctor self-diagnoses cancer while testing Butterfly iQ ultrasound


Butterfly iQ

A vascular surgeon was able to diagnose his own cancer while testing the Butterfly Network’s Butterfly iQ ultrasound-on-a-chip device, according to a report from USA Today.

After experiencing some throat discomfort Dr. John Martin self-tested the device, designed to send images to and operate in conjunction with Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) iPhones, and found a mass that he thought looked cancerous, according to the report.

The mass turned out to be squamous cell cancer which Martin has since received treatment for, including surgery and radiation therapy.

“I felt something funny in my neck, connected the probe to my phone, did an ultrasound, and there it was: My tumor,” Martin said, according to USA Today.

The Butterfly iQ device won FDA 510(k) clearance earlier this month with 13 clinical indications, which the Guilford, Conn.-based company touts as the “broadest every for a single ultrasound transducer.”

Butterfly said its device consists of a single wide-band, 2D matrix array with thousands of microelectromechanical systems overlaid on an integrated circuit.

The company touted that the cost of the device was significantly lower than existing technology, saying it could reduce costs between 10 to 100 times.

Apple to partner with American Well, Stanford to launch heart arrhythmia trial with Apple Watch 3

Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) said this week it will partner with telemedicine company American Well and Stanford University to test the performance of its Series 3 Apple Watch to detect heart arrhythmias, according to a Fortune report.

The tech giant announced the Apple Heart Study at its iPhone unveiling event earlier this week, saying that the company would seek to use the watch as a replacement for traditional heart sensors, according to the report.

The new watch comes with an improved heart rate monitor which Apple claims will collect data including post-workout recovery heart rate and abnormal spikes in heart rate while resting, Fortune reports.

Though the company didn’t reveal any new health-related innovations on its most recent iPhone 8 and iPhone X release announcement, CEO Tim Cook said the company is still focused on the healthcare industry.

The tech giant has recently made strides towards making its iPhone devices healthcare-connected central depositories, announcing in June it would team with Health Gorilla to add health and diagnostic lab data and with DexCom to integrate G5 CGM support into its Apple Watch, alongside rumors that the company was looking to acquire Aetnahealth.

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CEO Cook says healthcare is “big area for Apple’s future”

Despite lacking new health-related innovations on its most recent iPhone 8 and iPhone X release announcement, Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) is still focused on the healthcare industry, CEO Tim Cook told Fortune magazine.

The tech giant has recently made strides towards making its iPhone devices healthcare-connected central depositories, announcing in June it would team with Health Gorilla to add health and diagnostic lab data and with DexCom to integrate G5 CGM support into its Apple Watch, alongside rumors that the company was looking to acquire Aetnahealth.

“We’re extremely interested in this area. And, yes, it is a business opportunity. If you look at it, medical health activity is the largest or second-largest component of the economy, depending on which country in the world you’re dealing with,” Cook told Fortune.

But Cook said that in exploring innovation in healthcare, Apple had found that most companies were less focused on patients than they were on reimbursements.

“And it hasn’t been constructed in a way where the focus at the device level is making great products from a pure point of view. The focus has been on making products that can get reimbursed through the insurance companies, through Medicare, or through Medicaid. And so in some ways we bring a totally fresh view into this and say, ‘Forget all of that. What will help people?’” Cook said.

The Apple Watch has been a major focal point for the company’s healthcare efforts, as the device includes a a number of health diagnostics, and Cook said he expects the watch to continue growing as a diagnostic.

“One of the things that we’ve learned that we’ve been really surprised and delighted about is this device, because of the monitoring of the heart, has essentially alerted people through the collection of the data that they have a problem. And that spurred them to go to the doctor and say, ‘Look at my heart rate data. Is something wrong?’ And a not-insignificant number have found out if they hadn’t come into the doctor they would have died,” Cook told Fortune in an interview.

Cook said that the company would continue to invest in its app-based ResearchKit program, touting a number of 1st-of-their-kind studies since the implementation, but gave the caveat that the project was not designed to be a money maker for the company.

“There’s no business model there. Honestly, we don’t make any money on that. But it was something that we thought would be good for society and so we did it. Will it eventually lead us somewhere? We’ll find out. I can’t answer that today,” Cook said.

Cook also teased that the company was developing products for the healthcare field, but said many of the projects he couldn’t talk about.

“There’s much more in the health area. There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t tell you about that we’re working on, some of which it’s clear there’s a commercial business there. And some of it it’s clear there’s not. And some of it it‘s not clear. I do think it’s a big area for Apple’s future,” Cook told Fortune.

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