Is this Apple Health's Biggest Adversary?

WebMD just launched its own program for tracking health from wearables, but Apple has some big advantages over its competition.

Jun 16, 2014 at 3:03PM

Webmd Heathlytarget

WebMD just entered the health and fitness tracking market with its new Healthy Target program. Source: WebMD

The market for all-encompassing health tracking is quickly getting crowded. Samsung already has its S.A.M.I. health-tracking services, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched its Health app earlier this month, and Google is expected to launch Google Fit soon. But another competitor just entered the ring: WebMD (NASDAQ:WBMD) introduced its own app this week that pulls health tracking from wearable and connected devices and gives users doctor-reviewed content suggestions based on the data.

Diving deeper into user health
WebMD is hoping to build on its brand as the go-to source for online health information by allowing users to connect wearable devices like Fitbit, wireless weight scales, and glucose meters, or manually input information to keep all of their health data in one place. The company's new Healthy Target program isn't a stand-alone app, but is instead built right into WebMD's exiting flagship app.

WebMD said the Healthy Target program will be important for people who need help tracking their Type 2 diabetes and obesity, or for people who just want to set personal fitness and health goals.

Apple Iwatch Health

Apple's Health app. Source: Apple

Apple's advantage
While the WebMD app will pull information across multiple access points -- wearables, health meters, and manual input -- which is similar to Apple's approach, Apple is taking Health one step further by teaming up with the Mayo Clinic. 

Ultimately, it appears Apple not only wants users to be able to collect all of their health and fitness data into one location, but also for that data to easily be shared with a person's physician. And that could be one of Apple's biggest advantages in this health space.

While lots of app allow users to track health and fitness progress and provide reminders, Apple's platform allows users to share all of their personal health information with their doctors, if they so choose.

While WebMD has great doctor-reviewed content, which it will curate to its Healthy Target users, it's not the same as having a physician view a patient's blood glucose levels over the past month, look at how well they've been sleeping, or see data on how active they've been.

The CEO of the May Clinic, Dr. John H. Noseworthy, was quoted at Apple's WWDC saying, "We believe Apple's HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people. We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app." Apple and the Mayo Clinic are making it clear the Health app is ultimately intended to be used in tandem with a user's doctors.

In addition to teaming up with the Mayo Clinic, Apple has worked closely with the FDA, ensuring that their health ambitions can be realized with the proper government acceptance.

Foolish final thoughts
It's likely Apple will have an even greater advantage over WebMD and its other competitors if the company releases an iWatch this fall that pairs with the Health app. Apple has obviously been very successful pairing its own software with its devices, and an iWatch working in tandem with the Health app could prove to be too much for Healthy Target and other apps like it. Even if people don't opt for an iWatch and instead use other wearables to send data to the Health app, Apple will still have the advantage of giving users the option to send their data directly to doctors. As technology becomes more integrated with health, this factor will become more important than ever.

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Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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