Whilst many people are occupied on holiday at the end of last summer, Apple quietly admitted that it had acquired personal health record vendor Gliimpse. It was assumed to be the first acquisition by Apple’s new Digital Health team and, as such, Hampleton Partners believes it was significant news. Apple’s purchase bolstered the company’s digital health offering and added to its digital health portfolio, currently composed of ResearchKit, CareKit, and HealthKit, and the developing ecosystems that surround them. Patent filings also suggest that Apple may be creating a health wearable for use by healthcare providers and the company has been making a series of significant healthcare specialist hires and engaging in various healthcare collaborations.
May even make the smartphone market look small
Behind this drumbeat, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, believes that health and healthcare are ready for digital disruption – indeed he has commented that Apple’s opportunity in healthcare “may even make the smartphone market look small.”
Apple has the opportunity to innovate in healthcare thanks to its massive iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch user population, the omnipresence of mobile devices and the increasing propensity of people to run their personal and professional lives through them. And, because of this, many other healthcare innovators want to take advantage of the platforms’ capabilities and the penetration both of iOS and the ubiquitous and trusted Apple brand. Those that doubt that Apple could become a significant force, both on its own account and as an enabler for others, in an industry ripe for change need to remember that step-change innovation rarely comes from within an industry – it’s outsiders that have break the mould, countering inertia, self-interest, turf protection and sheer lack of imagination that often develops as an industry matures into business-as-usual.
The way medicine is delivered cannot remain the same
And with the pressures of having to deal with higher expectations, aging populations, lifestyle diseases and constantly escalating costs the way medicine is delivered cannot remain the same. Our populations will eventually resist the ever-rising taxation or insurance premiums necessary to fund the status quo, and, ultimately our economies will not support it. As the booming market in connected fitness devices has proven already, there is huge personal interest in collecting health data, and aggregating it into a health record needn’t be more hard work than setting up and updating your grocery list for your favourite delivery service. Yet despite the provision of health services being a technology-intense sector, health services generally are very poor at being able to access, share and update patient’s complete medical records, and patient care suffers because of it. So, any improvement in that situation should be welcomed all round.
From Hampleton’s point of view, it’s great to have Apple seriously interested in healthcare. In securing Gliimpse and with more recent developments they will have people with both serial entrepreneurial and health experience on the team and this will drive further medical technology innovation out of Cupertino and around the world.