Amazon is acquiring One Medical, a company that operates a network of boutique primary-care practices, for around $3.9 billion. As the health market is one of the most profitable in the world and Apple is heavily betting in this sector with the Apple Watch and tons of health studies, should this be the company’s next step and start seeking its way in healthcare?
According to CNBC, Amazon hopes to “improve how people book appointments and the experience of being seen by a physician.” Niel Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said the healthcare system is “high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.”
“We love inventing to make what should be easy easier and we want to be one of the companies that helps dramatically improve the healthcare experience over the next several years,” he said.
With Amazon taking this next step, should Apple do the same and push heavily for new experiences in the health sector? Here’s what we know so far.
Apple and healthcare experiences could be a perfect match
The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as Apple just released the ultimate guide for how Apple Watch and the Health app are improving lives. Here’s what Apple COO Jeff Williams stated in the Empowering people to live a healthier day guide:
“Apple is working to change how people think about, talk about, monitor, and focus on their health. We feel drawn to this work not only because of the opportunity to help advance human health but because we are driven by our principles to devote talent, resources, and expertise to where we can do the most good. We believe passionately that technology can play a role in improving health outcomes and encouraging people to live a healthier day.
This report offers a snapshot of our work to advance health. Since the beginning of our journey, the health innovations we’ve pioneered have aimed to help break down barriers between users and their own everyday health data, between health care providers and patients, and between researchers and study participants.”
Williams notes that Apple’s work in health has been mostly in two areas: personal health and fitness features found on devices like iPhone and Apple Watch, which support the medical community.
According to him, Apple’s vision for the future “is to continue to create science-based technology that equips people with even more information and acts as an intelligent guardian for their health.”
Could this mean Apple should also be part of the healthcare system since it can deeply integrate users’ data thanks to the Apple Watch into primary healthcare?
Apple thought about setting up primary care clinics, according to a report
Last year, a report from the Wall Street Journal said Apple had considered setting up an in-house medical service that would offer primary care clinics with doctors employed by Apple. The Journal says the company was exploring how the Apple Watch could be used to improve healthcare.
This project was envisioned in 2016 but has seemingly been put on pause, partly because Apple’s dogfooding of a similar project for its own employees saw limited use.
The plan was to offer a subscription health service that would combine virtual and in-person care provided by Apple doctors, enhanced with continuous health monitoring by the customer’s Apple Watch and iPhone.
The Journal cites one anecdote from an internal meeting and what went wrong:
Employees concerned about the culture pointed to a 2019 meeting during which a midlevel manager raised questions about data, according to people familiar with the meeting and the documents. Dr. Desai responded angrily, leading some present to conclude that critical questions were unwelcome, according to the people and the documents. The manager left Apple weeks later and the episode contributed to her departure, documents show.
Apple’s spokesman said Dr. Desai spoke to the importance of data integrity in the meeting. “This matter was investigated thoroughly and the allegations could not be substantiated,” the spokesman said. Apple declined to comment on the circumstances of the employee’s departure.
Will Apple seek its path in healthcare?
With the company’s latest statement on its vision for healthcare and paused plan on primary care clinics, it doesn’t seem Apple is putting efforts to take a similar approach as Amazon.
As of now, the company is making sure users can have access to all of its body’s data in a private and secure way. As privacy is one of Apple’s most important pillars, it makes sense if the company stays one step back and only allows clinics and physicians to better understand their patients instead of being part of the process.
It seems that making the data available through the Health app in a comprehensive way is the best contribution Apple can give to its users in the health sector right now. With the company pushing users for a better and healthier life, it’s for the best whether they keep expanding its wearables health capabilities with the Apple Watch, AirPods, and more.
Do you think Apple should invest in healthcare or do you think the company is taking the right approach now? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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