The Apple Watch may right now be a secret tool in the company’s arsenal, but that doesn’t mean Apple wants to stop there. In June, we heard details of Apple’s healthcare plans, with the company wanting to offer primary care medical services under its Apple Health brand.
The medical service would be run by Apple as well as partners and Apple-employed doctors and healthcare assistants, and the firm has already begun testing the service by taking over healthcare clinics near its Campus headquarters. Apple has built a team of clinicians, engineers, and product designers to work on new health services, and although the program is in its preliminary stage right now, it could be a radical move for the company that’s evolving beyond a technology brand into new avenues. With literal billions of dollars in reserves, Apple has near-limitless resources to throw at a new venture into healthcare, and as the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, you can’t put a price on health. According to one report, the global health industry was worth an incredible $8.45 trillion in 2018, though healthcare spending could reach more than $10 trillion by 2022.
Ambitious plans like these are always going to sound more dramatic and exciting than they actually are, and as we know with Apple, the company doesn’t rush into anything. Indeed, the firm has been working on its own automobile for more than a decade and it’s thought it’s still a number of years off from release. Similarly, the firm has been working on its own AR and VR headset for a number of years, and it’s set to come into public circulation in 2022.
Technically, Apple could invest billions into healthcare projects and only begin rolling out actual facilities in 2030 or 2040 – the company knows it needs to play the long game if it wants to enjoy success in the field, which is why it’s slowly been introducing new health features to the Apple Watch over the past six or seven years. Case in point: Apple has rumored to be working on a blood glucose monitor for the Apple Watch but the project was delayed to further refine its ability.
It’s also thought that the second-generation AirPods Pro will feature health tracking capabilities for the first time which will work hand-in-hand with the Apple Watch to improve its accuracy. Apple’s director of product marketing, Deidre Caldbeck, recently spoke about the possibility of health taking on the AirPods. “If you think about the health features we have today, there are obviously several in Apple Watch and iPhone. There are also some health features with AirPods and some of our audio products. So, there’s absolutely an opportunity to leverage the ubiquity of our devices to discover new ways that we can empower people to manage their health.”
Back to Apple Health Hubs. According to The Wall Street Journal, sources familiar with the project say that it “hasn’t gotten off the ground” just yet, adding that the firm has struggled to move past the preliminary stage. Indeed, the integrity of health data from Apple’s clinics to support product development has been an issue raised, and privacy is also a key concern if Apple wants to directly handle sensitive patient data that it then uses in its own clinics, too.
There’s no doubting that there are challenges ahead for Apple’s healthcare arm, and the company still needs to refine its offering and create an environment that works for consumers and healthcare bodies. In the meantime, we’ll see the focus remain on wearables and software that empowers consumers to better monitor their health. The Apple Watch will become more powerful and there’ll be a closer link between software, hardware, and the healthcare sector, which some will no doubt find intrusive. But embracing new technologies will ultimately help you lead a healthier, longer life – and we’ll have Apple to thank for that.