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