Apple's Health Care Prospects Intrigue Industry Observers

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-05-10 Print this article Print

"I didn't say entirely ridiculous; I said almost ridiculous," added Snow, given what Apple is capable of.

He explains, "There's too much at stake. It's not just about purchasing decisions, which Apple is very good at, it's about workflow and intervention management. In order to change a human being's behavior, you have to have data and you have to give them a workflow in which they can act—that's the job of the app."

Today, there are likely well over 40,000 health care apps from companies such as IMS Health, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Social Wealth—companies used to dealing with formularies, Snow said.

Apple would face two primary challenges, Snow said. The first is a curation problem—it would need to separate apps that consumers can use on their own from ones that require professional monitoring. On this front, Apple would be competing with some very experienced companies.

The other issue, Snow said, is a hardware problem. Currently, wearables that transmit health data rely on Bluetooth, which is a battery drainer.

"If Apple were to build a low-power transmission protocol into their platform, they would become the platform for wearable devices," said Snow.

Still, it's clear Apple is making significant moves in this space, Snow continued, "though that doesn't mean that Apple is going to become the go-to health care platform for consumers."

That said, Snow added, "The other side of the equation is, if anyone can do it, Apple can. IMS is doing it in a B2B manner, not B2C. … Given Apple's ability to create engaged, loyal users, they have as good a shot as anyone and shouldn't be taken lightly."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.


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