An Apple a Day

by Brandie Linfante

It isn’t a question any longer of if Apple is taking on health care, because clearly Apple is already integrated into everyday health care. With iOS devices utilized internationally in hospitals and medical offices, apps for consumer health and medical research at the ready, developer kits, and health care management tools, the question then begets, where is Apple going from here?

Will the future of health care be in the hands of consumers?

Apple’s aspirations are high, and CEO Tim Cook recently told Time magazine that, “Apple’s largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people’s health and well-being.” So how will Apple become an intricate part of health care systems? Will they be the problem solver who is able to take a highly fragmented and inefficient health care industry and turn it around?

Apple has access to 85.8 million iPhone users in the United States alone, and customer loyalty and trust remains strong for their products. Monitoring health is an important factor for today’s society, with a focus on better patient outcomes and empowerment of patients to have access to all of their own health care data.

“Apple’s largest contribution to mankindwill be in improving people’s health and well-being.”

— Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

The Apple health app includes CareKit, an electronic health records (EHR) opportunity, where patients can organize data from connected medical institutions in one place to include diagnoses, laboratory results, medications prescribed, procedures, and more. Patients piloting the app can share their medical information with providers and caregivers. The app is based on a standard for transferring medical records, and Apple has aligned with several EHR partners.

With data privacy being of paramount importance, Apple has assured its customers that their health data will be private and not made available to Apple unless the user elects to share it. This translates into making health care data user-friendly, efficient, and readily accessible.

Is this philanthropy, humanitarianism, or a high profit opportunity?

Apple’s endeavors certainly may benefit consumers and health care providers, and there is no doubt they can make a huge impact in shaping the health care industry and consumers’ journey. Apple itself will be the benefactor through sales of their hardware and services, along with expanding and improving upon their current health offerings, such as CareKit, ResearchKit, and HealthKit.

Apple has opened its own, self-operated AC Wellness medical clinics for employees. They are partnering with Aetna and the Attain app using the Apple Watch to gather related health data. Reportedly, the company will pilot a program with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to provide veterans with access to their medical records on their iPhones. Additional expansion opportunities could include telemedicine and broader endeavors in the personal EHR space.

However, much of the news around Apple is rumor and speculation; as a company they don’t fully disclose future projects. We do know that they are committed to developing future products in tandem with health providers, researchers, and consumers. Analysts are hedging their bets that Apple will be successful in their bid to make a significant impact in health care.

Looking ahead at marketing opportunities

Apple is taking a proactive approach toward health care. Mobile technology and medical-grade wearables will be at the forefront of their endeavors. As marketers we should follow suit and amplify the mobile first effort. Application of an appropriate content strategy for these mediums utilizing shorter, personalized content, videos, localized content, and interactive elements are just a few of the ways we can make a big impact with a proactive approach. Just as Apple has stamped their user-friendly and well-integrated approach to technology, their foray into the health and wellness space should be mirrored by marketers looking to deliver messaging and content that embraces consumer-centric themes, including hyper-relevant content, seamless digital experiences, and inspiring creative. It will be interesting to see if 21st century medical care and the advent of an Apple a day actually will help keep the doctor away.