We made a prediction earlier this year about the emergence of Apple as one of the most influential players in healthcare. Given the company’s recent activity, we are more convinced than ever that Apple is onto something big.
Apple’s plan seems to be a play of building big software platforms internally and then acquiring select competencies to quicken their success. Here are the key components.
Three years ago, Apple began introducing a series of health and fitness related apps and tools including HealthKit, ResearchKit and then CareKit. Using these tools, developers can build apps to gather, track and use a wide range of health and fitness data. Some of apple’s tools are open source platforms that allow people to build their own apps, permit access to the user’s health records, and take a more active role in their treatment. Some are platforms that act as hubs for third-party apps; some are apps that allow researchers to ask iPhone users to participate in medical studies. (Imagine having a pool of over one billion patients to recruit for your trials!) And the list goes on.
Turning to its acquisitions; Apple bought Gliimpse with the aim of solving interoperability issues so Apple devices can interact with hospital systems. Beddit, a Finnish company was another acquisition to bring a credible sleep app to its Apple Watch. Lattice, a prominent player in the dark data space (unstructured data) will help Apple to make sense of narratives in medical records. And the latest partnership with Health Gorilla, which enables consumers to collect their lab and imaging results, means the iPhone can become a diagnostic hub in the hands of patients themselves.
Apple is just warming up for its assault on this market; the company wants to crush the interoperability barriers, make the information residing in EMR computable and expand and enrich its platform both for general as well as condition-specific apps. Typical of Apple’s strategy, consumer sits at the center and armed with the ability to collect their own medical data and manage their health condition.
Now if you combine all these capabilities with a comprehensive AI platform, one billion voice enabled iPhones, hundreds of millions of watches and soon tens of millions of HomePods (Apple’s Alexa), you will start seeing the shadows of a goliath forming in our industry.
What is next for Apple? Our bet is on a content acquisition. Could it be an EMR company? We will look at our crystal ball and report back !!!