Apple acquires personal health data startup Gliimpse


    Apple just took one more small step in its gargantuan march toward disrupting the healthcare industry. The tech giant purchased startup Gliimpse in its first ever digital health-related acquisition. The sale took place earlier this year and was first reported on by Fast Company.

    As usual, Apple gave few details on the acquisition. They barely acknowledged it in this meager confirmation to Fast Company: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

    Silicon Valley-based startup, Gliimpse works by letting users collect their own medical records in a single place which they can then share with loved ones. The company’s founder Anil Sethi was inspired to create the service after watching his own sister battle breast cancer and have such a hard time accessing her own medical records from across disparate systems using multiple file formats.
    On their website, Gliimpse describes itself as a magical machine that takes “incomprehensible electronic medical records and turns them into understandable, standardized, coded elements (LOINC, RxNorm, CPT, ICD and SNOMED), and terminology that both humans and machines can easily understand and use.”

    For their part, Apple has been eyeing expanding in the healthcare space for a while now. CEO Tim Cook gave it passing mention at the end of a recent interview with Fast Company.

    “We’ve gotten into the health arena and we started looking at wellness, that took us to pulling a string to thinking about research, pulling that string a little further took us to some patient-care stuff, and that pulled a string that’s taking us into some other stuff,” he said.

    So it’s not hard to see how the company would benefit from getting their hands on technology that helps people create a comprehensive and easy-to-read personal medical profile.

    Apple was already working on a new feature letting iOS 10 users request medical records on their iPhones. This acquisition will line up perfectly with those plans. And there’s potential benefit for Apple’s other health-related apps like HealthKit, ResearchKit, and CareKit.

    Even the Apple Watch, which many users concede isn’t the wearable revolution we had hoped it would be before launch, did at least prove consumers have a strong interest in being more informed and involved in their own health and fitness tracking.

    So it’s too soon to tell how exactly Apple will make use of Gliimpse’s technology. But what’s certain is the healthcare industry is ripe for a technological shake up. Having already changed the way consumers interact with tech, Apple may be just the right company to take this on.

    Kelly Paik
    Kelly Paik writes about science and technology for Fanvive. When she's not catching up on the latest innovations, she uses her free-time painting and roaming to places with languages she can't speak. Because she rather enjoys fumbling through cities and picking things on the menu through a process of eeny meeny miny moe.