The Shift

Ap­ple’s big­gest dis­rup­tion yet could be to fo­cus more on the health­care in­dus­try, pre­dicts David Chartier

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS -

David Chartier on Ap­ple's move into health­care.

Ap­ple re­moved ‘Com­puter’ from its com­pany name in 2007 — the year of the first iPhone. While I don’t think Ap­ple has plans to change its name again, I do think it has shown con­crete signs of the next ma­jor rea­son for why it wanted to move be­yond the tra­di­tional con­cept of com­put­ers: our health.

Ap­ple’s first pub­lic of­fer­ing in the realm of health is the Watch. Orig­i­nally pitched as a com­pan­ion for ev­ery­thing from health to apps to no­ti­fi­ca­tions, Ap­ple has since dou­bled, nay tripled down on the wear­able’s health prospects. Last year, the com­pany built on that fur­ther by part­ner­ing with Stan­ford to launch an opt-in heart study, open to all Watch own­ers.

I’d say the next big health step has been into med­i­cal records. In iOS 11.3 (in beta test­ing at the time of press), Ap­ple’s ded­i­cated Health app can se­curely log into a grow­ing va­ri­ety of med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions and providers to down­load your med­i­cal records. This is a daunt­ing, com­plex prob­lem — both tech­ni­cally and legally. Ap­ple has an en­tire pre­sen­ta­tion at ap­ple.

com/health­care that out­lines some of where it’s go­ing with this.

There are also the ded­i­cated, in­de­pen­dently run med­i­cal clin­ics for em­ploy­ees that Ap­ple is cre­at­ing near its Cu­per­tino cam­pus. It isn’t the only com­pany to do this, but the prac­tice doesn’t seem to be stan­dard yet ei­ther. It’s worth not­ing that Ap­ple has an en­tire med­i­cal di­vi­sion that likely is heav­ily in­volved in many, if not all of Ap­ple’s re­lated ini­tia­tives.

I think the last ma­jor point to con­sider for Ap­ple’s health am­bi­tions is Tim Cook’s com­ments. The first Ap­ple Watch went through some stan­dard prod­uct ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­cesses, but not through the FDA — the agency that tests med­i­cal de­vices. At the time, Cook said Ap­ple was work­ing on other prod­ucts that could be sub­jected to FDA ap­proval. Spoiler alert: they’re prob­a­bly smaller and more wear­able than the next iPad.

What does it all add up to? I don’t think Ap­ple is des­tined to be­come your next hos­pi­tal or health in­surance provider. But it is fol­low­ing a stan­dard method­ol­ogy: build and pol­ish a new tech­nol­ogy, then bring it to a pre­vi­ously un­tapped in­dus­try. Think about what the iPod did to mu­sic. Then how Ap­ple shrunk Mac OS X down and took over smart­phones.

Now that core tech­nol­ogy com­po­nents have got­ten small enough to wear, Ap­ple has a pow­er­ful tool belt with which to en­ter a new in­dus­try that hap­pens to have an an­nual rev­enue of around $1.5 tril­lion. Be­yond this rev­enue, health is ar­guably the place where Ap­ple could make its big­gest dif­fer­ence yet.

“The MacBook’s fine — but you have high blood pres­sure, a poor diet, and you need to ex­er­cise more…”

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