Health Care and Technology

Ideomed welcomes Apple’s footprint in mobile health market

June 13, 2014
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As a hardware and software giant steps into the mobile health development arena, a local Grand Rapids digital health company seeks to collaborate with its products, rather than go for the knockout.

Ideomed, the digital health solutions company headquartered at 50 Louis St. NW, Suite 410, Grand Rapids, launched Abriiz, its health management application, into the market initially in 2011. Three years later, Apple is introducing the Healthkit platform and Health application.

Keith Brophy, chief executive officer of Ideomed, said the new application and device integration hub is an important milestone in the field of mobile health and will be pivotal in impacting the industry.

“There is already scaffolding applications that are similar to Healthkit that are out there in a sense, but Apple’s stepping up to the game is going to set the bar very high for what could be accomplished with a successful engagement with mobile health,” said Brophy. “These are revolutionary times in mobile health. We are in the early stage of what probably will be a whole new different style of health stewardship in a decade.”

Brian Mack, marketing and public relations director at Ideomed, said Apple’s move into the mobile health industry validates what Ideomed has been doing for several years.

“Apple is well established both in hardware and software. The field of mobile health is still one that is emerging, growing and evolving at a very rapid pace, and it has been getting a lot of attention very recently, but there is still a fair amount of need for education and understanding,” said Mack. “It was a welcome announcement for us.”

According to a 2013 report issued by Research 2 Guidance, a company specializing in mobile research based in Germany, by the year 2015 an anticipated 500 million smartphone users across the world are expected to use some type of health care application.

Although Apple is stepping into the same market as Ideomed, Brophy said there is a distinction between the two companies’ products. While both mobile health applications are designed to address mobile health tracking, the Healthkit platform and Health app created by Apple is focused on metric tracking and information aggregation for an individual.

Mack said the Abriiz application uses a care management based approach to facilitate communication between the patient and care manager to build accountability in managing their own care, especially in terms of chronic illness.

“Part of what we are doing by going directly to the health systems and health insurers is plugging into what we call the care team connection,” said Mack. “It essentially builds an accountability team around that patient that helps them to be healthier, and that healthier patient leads to a happier patient, which leads to better outcomes and ultimately reduced cost across the system.”

Initially marketed in 2011 for a pediatric population with severe asthma, Abriiz has expanded to include multi-chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, weight management, asthma, palliative care and HIV.

Brophy said since the launch of the care management product, the company has made a number of refinements and improvements to simplify accessibility and increase the level of user engagement.

“It’s been a fascinating journey, because we have really had a chance to roll up our sleeves and talk with a variety of patients across the nation that have chronic conditions and a variety of caregivers,” said Brophy. “We also have learned a lot about making an engaging experience on a mobile device that someone will be motivated to use to track and steward their health.”

The new Apple Health application provides the user a database of health and fitness information, including heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, blood type and allergies. According to Apple, the Healthkit platform will provide developers access data selected by the individual in order for the health applications to work in partnership. 

Brophy said Ideomed plans on leveraging the work Apple has done in creating an iOS 8 software platform that could potentially be used down the road to integrate data at the user’s discretion.

“We see the Apple platform — and their Healthkit and their Health app — as offering tremendous collaborative possibilities,” he said. “We are already exploring those and we very much anticipate building Abriiz on top of that platform. You could think of the Healthkit, Health app as kind of the foundation of a house and we have a skyscraper we are building on top of it.”

Ideomed’s Abriiz application is available for both online and mobile platforms. The Grand Rapids-based digital health solutions company was recently selected as one of four mobile medical application entrepreneurs to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee on Health and Technology in 2013.

“Over these last four years, we realize that this is a daunting challenge to change somebody’s health-minded behavior on a daily basis, but we have had some very encouraging inroads and really worked to be best in the nation,” said Brophy. “We are proud to be thought leaders in the field even though we are still young in our efforts … this Apple step is a big step and we are very excited to be a leader in that nationwide effort right here in Grand Rapids.”

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