Apple’s healthcare plans are ailing — report

Apple went so far as to hire doctors for its own employees.

From Rolfe Winkler’s “Apple Struggles in Push to Make Healthcare Its Greatest Legacy” in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has said the company’s greatest contribution to mankind will be in health. So far, some Apple initiatives aimed at broadly disrupting the healthcare sector have struggled to gain traction, according to people familiar with them and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Apple has envisioned an audacious plan for healthcare, offering its own primary-care medical service with Apple-employed doctors at its own clinics, according to people familiar with the plan and documents. To test that and other bold healthcare ideas, it took over clinics that catered to its employees and built a team with scores of clinicians, engineers, product designers and others.

Today those ambitions, which aren’t widely known, have largely stalled as Apple has shifted the focus of its health unit to something it knows well: Selling devices, specifically the Apple Watch, according to people familiar with its strategy.

The new primary-care service hasn’t gotten off the ground, people familiar with it say. A digital health app launched quietly this year has struggled to keep users engaged, say people familiar with the app and the documents seen by the Journal. Some employees have raised questions internally about the integrity of health data coming from the company’s clinics that has been used to support product development, according to people familiar with their concerns and the documents.

My take: Early days.

8 Comments

  1. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    For a moment, I thought you might bring up daycare again, Mr. Philip. 🙂

    3
    June 16, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Selling devices, specifically the Apple Watch, according to people familiar with its strategy.”

    Tim C does often tout that “health care” will be Apple’s legacy. That strategy seems relegated solely to the Apple Watch, which frustrates me at times. With Apple’s engineering technology prowess I always believed Apple could make an indelible mark in the design & fabrication of orthotic & prosthetic devices for individuals with severe disabilities contributing significantly to their participation in activities of daily living & in their return fully in the world-of-work doing job tasks commensurate with their physical & mental abilities. Some individuals on this blog often have denoted the proximity of the Air Pod with that of a high tech hearing device targeted to helping individuals with hearing impairments. Yet, Apple seems not to be moving assertively in this direction. Everything seems focus on the Watch exclusively, when so much more of Apple’s engineering technology prowess from a didactic, functional & practical application could & should be focus toward rehabilitation technology, design, fabrication of new and innovative devices for people’s with disabilities to live fuller & more independent qualitative lifestyles. It isn’t all about exercise & sports.

    1
    June 16, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Agree strongly, “early days”. Apple famously delays or cancel projects as the work to ‘get it right’. In healthcare, that’s hard.

    Agree strongly, Jerry, on hearing device.

    Telehealth is just starting. The developing word may go telehealth first, vs. clinical, just as they went mobile first and largely skipped the Mac/PC approach.

    Another area might be private AI. Right now most other companies’ AI relies on large data sets, often public. Looking into Apple’s public disclosures about their AI, private seems to be the focus. Advances in processing architectures and new silicon processes and new memory technologies may help Apple apply AI to medical research and health applications.

    0
    June 16, 2021
  4. Bart Yee said:
    No one said this would be easy or quick. The article dwells negatively on struggles but then isn’t every new out of box, not in your core competencies project going to be difficult to do? However, Apple may have been better off partnering with a large cohort group run by other doctors/health systems (Kaiser?) and enrolled people in studies where engagement is likely better and data more easily obtained. Also, having an outside medical group imparts some level of outside accountability for the data independent of what Apple is looking for.

    Still, happy that Apple is attempting this and working towards goal oriented health and healthcare improvement via tech. It’s just going to take awhile.

    1
    June 16, 2021
  5. Duane Bemister said:
    Maybe they could start with solving food addiction.

    2
    June 16, 2021
  6. Steven Philips said:
    An electronic device that satisfies the brains hunger center but has no nutritive value?
    Hmmm! Could we get politicians to test it – just to insure there’s not some anti-trust issue or something?:)

    0
    June 16, 2021

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