According to a report over at 9to5Mac, Apple is developing a health app called Healthbook that will track steps taken, calories burned, and miles walked. The app will also helps users track blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and other blood-related biometrics, including — possible — glucose levels. In addition to the tracking features, Healthbook will also reportedly help users remember to take their medications and may even integrate with the iPhone’s existing, built-in Reminders app.
The report cites sources who describe the app as being modeled after Apple’s Passbook app, which is an app for storing loyalty cards and coupons. Like Passbook, Healthbook would be designed with an interface that resembles a stack of cards — each card representing a different health or fitness data point.
9to5Mac points out that many features and apps are developed for an upcoming iOS launch than the number that actually makes it into the final cut. While Healthbook may be under development at Apple, it still may never find its way to market.
Rumors aside, Apple has been poaching engineering talent and senior employees from digital health companies over the course of the past year. So, it certainly has more than a passing interest in digital health. Most recently, MobiHealthNews broke the news that Apple had hired Michael O’Reilly, the former chief medical officer of Masimo Corporation, which specializes in pulse oximeters. At the very end of 2012 Masimo commercially launched an iPhone-enabled pulse oximeter called the iSpO2.
Over the weekend The New York Times reported a few new scoops on Apple’s mobile health plans and its rumored iWatch project. Apple’s meeting in December with the FDA was focused on the subject of “mobile medical apps”, which is the term the FDA uses for those apps that need to be regulated as medical devices.
“They are either trying to get the lay of the land for regulatory pathways with medical devices and apps and this was an initial meeting, or Apple has been trying to push something through the FDA for a while and they’ve had hangups,” Mark A. McAndrew, a partner with the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, who first noticed the public notice about the Apple-FDA meeting, speculated in an interview with The New York Times.
Even if Apple did not have a particular product launch in mind when it met with the FDA, such a meeting should have been expected. The FDA published its final guidance guidelines on how it regulates mobile medical apps in late September 2013 — just three months before its meeting with Apple executives in December. Given its central role as a distributor and enabler of so many mobile medical apps, it seems to follow that Apple would be interested in having the FDA walk through its revised guidelines, right?