Withings is dead, long live Nokia – but the Patient Care Platform is the real news

When Nokia purchased health equipment maker Withings last year, we wondered what that would mean for the erstwhile challenger to Fitbit and Apple. Well, it turns out it means the Withings brand will be taken out of the market.

The Nokia brand will replace Withings on all products, update the Health Mate app, and provide a platform for patients and healthcare professionals to easily share data.

While most headlines will focus on the rebranded devices and apps, it’s the Patient Care Platform that has the potential to build significant market share – albeit without garnering lots of splashy headlines.

Look at Apple’s health strategy. Although the Apple Watch and iPhone get the attention, it’s the HealthKit and CareKit platforms that are the real “secret sauce”. These provide ways for software and hardware makers to create devices that work together.

Good health care isn’t about solving separate problems. Sure, you can go to you local doctor and get antibiotics for an infection, or have surgery to repair an injury.

But long-term health is about managing the entire person.

While doctors specialise in treating specific ailments or parts of the body (medical issues), health comes from good nutrition, rest, and being active. And those things can be measured and managed by using a variety of different tools.

Nokia’s approach is interesting. Withings already makes a number of different devices such as thermometers, scales, and blood pressure cuffs. As they plan to be HIPPA¬†compliant, they will need to either tightly control or lock out third parties from their platform.

Apple’s approach is more open, encouraging third parties to create HealthKit and CareKit applications. The question of HIPPA compliance is a vexed one. Is it Apple’s responsibility or the developer’s problem to deal with HIPPA compliance? We couldn’t get a straight answer.

Nokia’s move here could give them an edge over Apple.

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