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Apple is turning heads with job listings for biomedical engineers and HIPAA lawyers

by Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Reporter | June 02, 2016
Business Affairs Health IT Population Health
Is the tech giant preparing
to step up its health care
presence (again)?
Apple appears to be making plans to delve deeper into the health care technology business, looking to hire a lawyer with HIPAA experience, according to Business Insider, which broke the story.

The news site described a recent job posting by Apple seeking a “privacy counsel” that is focused on “HIPAA, Health” who will be expected to work on “privacy by design reviews and projects.” Responsibilities also included advising on “the privacy aspects of licensing, and procurement deals and corporate acquisitions.”

Although the company has released ResearchKit and CareKit and the Apple Watch currently monitors heart rate and other physical traits, it has so far avoided developing products that would need to meet HIPAA compliance. ResearchKit, released in 2015, is a platform that lets researchers conduct studies through apps available in the App Store. CareKit, announced several months ago, is a software framework allowing patients to monitor their medicine, symptoms and other health information like temperatures.

But Business Insider and other publications reporting the privacy counsel story note this latest development could mark an important point in the company’s plans to pursue more health care-related products. In January, BuzzFeed uncovered several other medical-related positions had been posted by Apple. The web site noted Apple had been seeking biomedical engineers and a lab technician, and seemed to have hired several people with medical research and development experience. Those hires may be related to an updated Apple Watch expected to be released this month.

News of the recent job postings also come as CEO Tim Cook made comments at an Amsterdam conference about the Apple Watch and its potential health care applications now and in the future.

Cook is quoted by Business Insider and other publications as noting that health is an area that has “massive interest” from the Apple teams.

“We believe that health is something that is a huge problem in the world, and we think it is ripe for simplicity and a new view, and we’d like to contribute to that,” Cook stated at Startup Fest Europe. “We’ve done some things with the Apple Watch to encourage activity but we’ve also gotten interested in research and launched ResearchKit.”

Cook reportedly compared being able to someday use an Apple Watch as a medical device to monitor one’s body to all the sensors we have in modern cars to monitor problems with them.

“So if you have a device that knew so much about you, it would be pretty incredible and would extend life and extend quality. I’m not saying one device will do all of that, but when you solve such a big problem, it takes several contributions,” Cook said.

He said one day we will all wonder how we ever got along without the Apple Watch.

“Because the holy grail of the watch is being able to monitor more and more of what’s going on in the body,” Cook noted.

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