It’s been coming for a long time–digital health, health tech, mHealth or whatever you’d like to call it.
And it’s been slow and problematic.
But the tides seem to be shifting, and dramatically at that. There are recent events that may have the muscle to drive this new era of consumer health tech and one is name behind it. That’s Apple.
I was struck to hear Tim Cook’s recent proclamation on Apple’s future reported in a recent story.
“If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question: ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’, it will be about health,” he said. “We’re democratizing it. We’re taking what has been with the institutions and empowering the individual to manage their health.”
In a phone interview today, former Apple CEO John Sculley echoed this sentiment.
“Healthcare is the world’s largest industry. And this market is many, many times the size of what Steve Jobs saw in the PC market years ago. Apple’s best days were when it was helping to define and shape the future. Today, given its high consumer appeal and trust, Apple is in a unique position to help shape healthcare for years to come.”
But beyond the vision of putting a dent in the healthcare universe rests a second big development: payment and reimbursement. Healthcare costs remain at the forefront of the debate and health technology is often regarded as an expensive (and untested) luxury. The Apple Watch has certainly fallen into that category and sometimes is defined by status and not science. Recent reports that Apple is in negations with private Medicare plans may go a long way to change both perception and reality. This, combined with prior initiatives with private payors can add up to powerful financial incentives.
Certainly others have had a hand in driving acceptance. Fitbit and AliveCor have made key strides in technology and consumer acceptance. But the heft of Apple to chance the game is undeniable. As the Medicare population grows and technology emerges as an effective tool to manage health and wellness, Apple and the Apple Watch may emerge has the new hip device for seniors. And this time, isn’t not a fractured hip.
© 2018 John Nosta. All rights reserved.