Digital Health

Apple Takes a Step Back From Healthcare

Apple Takes Step Back
Image Credit: Apple

According to a new report from Business Insider, Apple is scaling back its internal HealthHabit app that let employees track their fitness, talk to clinicians, and manage hypertension. 

HealthHabit was one of Apple’s largest projects resulting from a partnership with AC Wellness, a primary care provider for employers and families. Unnamed sources at Apple stated that HealthHabit was intended for a consumer launch if successful internally, which… it apparently wasn’t.

Although the project was the focus of more than 50 employees, it struggled with user engagement, a problem all too familiar to those working on digital health products.

  • The Strategy – Apple’s healthcare ambitions are apparent in its products, with the company incorporating a medical-grade EKG in the Apple Watch and data-sharing for clinical trials through the iPhone Health app. HealthHabit’s roadmap likely resembled that of Amazon Care, which began as an employee-only primary care app before expanding nationwide earlier this year.
  • The Trend – Apple’s news follows just days after Alphabet reported that it was dismantling Google Health and reorganizing its healthcare projects to be closer to their team-specific specialties (e.g. Health-AI moves within AI group). Sometimes taking a step back is the best way to move forward, and Apple’s recent moves are far from the end of its healthcare strategy. 

The healthcare history books are filled with would-be disruptors who seemed to have everything they needed (excellent teams, funding, strong industry connections), but few if any have had the bottomless warchest of capital and talent commanded by Apple.

While the moat around healthcare is incredibly wide (entrenched tech/vendors, complex datasets, demanding users), the same could be said about the smartphone market circa 2008.

Despite this step back, if any industry needs a disruptor, it’s healthcare – and if any consumer brand is going to pull it off, it’s Apple.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team

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