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    Apple looks to expand healthcare presence

    Email exchanges between Apple and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently revealed the tech giant’s plans to initiate itself in the healthcare world, which many believe will result in new products that will make the lives of primary care doctors easier and could improve doctor-patient relationships.

     

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    “Apple has been enormously successful with its technology and brand power among consumers, so Apple’s entry into the healthcare industry is at least beneficial in raising consumer awareness of exciting health and wellness solutions and raising the standards in user experience design,” says Harry Wang, senior research director at Parks Associates, a consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services. “Apple has bigger ambition beyond this influence, of course.”

    Apple’s plans apparently hint at the development of three regulated medical products—an app to diagnose Parkinson’s disease and two cardiac devices—as well as other technical advancements to further get involved in the industry.

    Tamara St. Claire, chief innovation officer for Commercial Healthcare at Xerox, notes Apple’s involvement in healthcare very directly shows what many have known for some time: The lines between technology and healthcare are becoming increasingly blurred.

    “They aren’t musing about getting into healthcare—they already are in healthcare,” she tells Medical Economics. “The ResearchKit (an open source framework introduced by Apple that enables your iOS app to become a powerful tool for medical research) and the app-store on their own allow others to create and distribute FDA-approved and non-FDA-approved health applications.”

     

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    Physicians today are overwhelmed with requests from patients on whether they should be downloading apps, or which specific apps to download. Apple becoming even more involved in healthcare, therefore, could really move the needle in digital health and healthcare delivery.

    “Digital health is incredibly fragmented, so Apple could be what the industry needs,” St. Claire says. “It could distinguish itself from the herd and stand out because of its proven ability to create ubiquity.”

    Wang notes that primary care doctors’ focus is not about technology but how to adapt their practices in the current environment where payment models shift to value-based care.

    Next: What does the future hold?

    Keith Loria
    Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.

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