According to a report published Thursday, Apple recently poached Dr. Rajiv Kumar, a pediatric specialist whose diabetes ResearchKit study made headlines in 2014, away from Stanford Children’s Health.
Christopher Dawes, CEO of Kumar’s former employer Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, confirmed the recent Apple hire to Fast Company, saying the endocrinologist will continue on a part-time basis at the Stanford facility.
“We can’t compete with companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook when they really want one of our own,” Dawes said.
Apple did not comment on the matter, and Kumar’s role at the company is unknown.
Kumar was one of the first medical professionals to take advantage of Apple’s HealthKit platform through a ResearchKit study focused on Type 1 diabetes monitoring. The trial, highlighted by national media outlets in 2014, operated under the auspices of Stanford’s hospital and used iPod touch and a medical device from DexCom to help patients keep track of blood sugar levels throughout the day. With HealthKit and the ResearchKit backbone, trial subjects were able to securely share aggregated data with healthcare professionals.
Today’s news comes one week after Apple posted a job opening seeking a lawyer with expertise in the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Apple’s Privacy Counsel position advises on federal regulatory matters related to future products, suggesting the company plans to develop comprehensive medical technology beyond unregulated devices like Apple Watch.
Over the past two years Apple has released a number of health and fitness products, starting with the debut of HealthKit in 2014. A recent report suggests the company’s interest in the industry began with a challenge from late cofounder Steve Jobs, who sought to fix what he viewed as a disjointed healthcare system. Jobs believed technology could solve a data gap between patients and healthcare professionals, an idea that gave rise to HealthKit, ResearchKit and ultimately Apple Watch.
The most recent Apple advance s also the one that comes closest to answering Jobs’ request. In April, CareKit was introduced as an open framework on which developers can build software solutions for tracking, managing and reporting medical conditions.