Apple edges ahead of Google in race to become a health data repository

Courtesy of Apple

Apple ($AAPL) has begun staking its claim to be the de facto standard for remote data collection. The tech giant has reportedly kicked off pilot programs of its HealthKit service at many leading hospitals, positioning it to play a major role in remote patient monitoring for general care and clinical trials.

Reuters reports 14 of the 23 top hospitals it contacted are already working with Apple. The pilot programs--some of which are yet to start--are currently using Apple's HealthKit as a centralized repository for data on blood pressure, weight, heart rate and other metrics collected by remote monitoring equipment. General health care is the initial target and biggest market for the technology, but the tools and data are equally applicable to clinical research.

Apple will face competition. Google ($GOOG) and Samsung are both working on data repositories but are already behind Apple in the race to win the trust of the healthcare system. While Apple's HealthKit is already in use at major U.S. hospitals, Google and Samsung are only just starting talks with a few of the top healthcare institutions. The popularity of Google's Android operating system--which is tied with Apple's iOS for U.S. market share--means the search giant could gain ground, though.

All of the competitors face a battle to prove the credibility of their respective systems and particularly the data they aggregate. "This is a whole new data source that we don't understand the integrity of yet," University of Pennsylvania Health System Chief Medical Information Officer William Hanson said. Such issues are solvable though, particularly when Apple, Google and Samsung--companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $1 trillion--have an interest in the market. 

- read Reuters' article