Apple is struggling to push healthcare to its greatest legacy

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CEO Tim Cook said the company’s greatest contribution to humanity is health. So far, some Apple initiatives aimed at significantly disrupting the healthcare sector have gained traction, according to people familiar with them and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. I’m having a hard time.

According to people familiar with planning and documentation, Apple has envisioned a bold healthcare plan, offering doctors and its own primary care medical services that Apple employs. To test it and other bold healthcare ideas, we took over the employee clinic and built a team of numerous clinicians, engineers, product designers and more.

Most of these lesser-known ambitions today are stalled as Apple shifts the focus of its health units to those that are familiar with it. According to people familiar with strategy, they sell devices, especially the Apple Watch.

People familiar with it say that new primary care services haven’t started yet. Digital health apps, launched quietly this year, are struggling to keep users interested, says people familiar with the documentation found in apps and journals. Some employees asked in-house about the integrity of health data from the company’s clinics used to support product development, according to people familiar with concerns and documentation.

An Apple spokeswoman said data integrity is the basis of all of the company’s innovations. He noted the work of the health team, saying the company is still in the early stages of its health care job and is adding new technologies such as: Heart rate notification Products like the Apple Watch improve user health. He said the data collected by Apple’s devices enables new research that could improve care.

“Many of the claims in this report are based on incomplete, outdated and inaccurate information,” said a spokesman.

Looking for new markets where technology can improve efficiency and outcomes and drive sales growth, the technology sector sees healthcare as an untapped opportunity.Some of the technology’s greatest efforts have failed, including: Haven, Of a corporation

A partnership that attracts attention with other companies to reduce medical costs.Today, Amazon has new initiatives and launch plans to sell prescriptions Virtual care across 50 states..

Under Cook’s leadership, Apple has quadrupled its R & D budget to $ 20 billion annually. In addition to smartwatches, the company has also released wireless headphones and new services. We have also invested heavily in health, autonomous driving, augmented reality, and all technically complex high stakes areas. This means that game-changing products may be years away or never come.

Apple can study the market for years before devising its own product, and may end up working extensively on new projects and technologies that won’t hit the market.

One of its most ambitious health care ideas was a plan to provide primary care medical care devised in 2016, according to those familiar with the document and its plans. Apple’s team has been working for months to understand how a flood of health and wellness data collected from users of smartwatches, first released in 2015, will be used to improve health care. Spent.

Apple’s chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, who oversees the health team, urged employees to think big. According to people familiar with his ideas, Apple should confuse the care model he called the “363” and “breakfix” in the United States. ..

Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer for 2020.


Apple / Associated Press

The team has decided one of the best ways to achieve that vision is to provide their own medical services, and those familiar with the plan will use the data generated by Apple devices to Apple. He said it would be linked to virtual and face-to-face care provided by doctors. According to these people and documents, Apple not only provides primary care, but also continuous health monitoring as part of a subscription-based personalized health program.

According to the document, if Apple can prove that the combination of device sensors, software and services can improve people’s health and reduce costs, the company can franchise its models to healthcare systems and other countries.

First, Apple chose to test the service with its employees. Apple has acquired an employee medical clinic near its headquarters, which was run by a startup, and turned it into a testbed for a new medical service, people familiar with the change said. In 2017, he hired Dr. Sumbul Desai from Stanford University to carry out the effort, codenamed Casper, people familiar with the plan said.

Efforts continue today, but Apple is struggling to move Casper beyond the preliminary stages, people familiar with its operations say.

Dr. Desai’s unit, in particular, discourages important feedback whose culture is potentially problematic for units focused on products and services related to personal health, according to people familiar with the culture and documentation. I’ve seen multiple withdrawals by employees who say they can. Some employees, according to data-savvy documents and people, have inaccurate or unplanned internal data about clinic performance, that is, data recently used to support the deployment of new digital health apps. Expressed concern that it has been edited in.

These issues have been repeatedly expressed to Cook and Williams, according to people familiar with the document and the issue.

An Apple spokesman said such criticisms were inaccurate.

June 7, Dr. Sumbul Desai, Cupertino, CA.


Apple Handout / Shutterstock

Employees interested in culture pointed out the 2019 meeting where mid-level managers asked questions about the data, according to people familiar with meetings and documentation. According to people and documents, Dr. Desai responded angry and some attendees concluded that important questions were not welcomed. The manager left Apple a few weeks later, and the episode contributed to her departure, the document shows.

An Apple spokesman said Dr. Desai talked about the importance of data integrity at meetings. “The issue was thoroughly investigated and the allegations could not be substantiated,” a spokesman said. Apple declined to comment on employee turnover.

A spokeswoman said the company is proud of Dr. Desai’s work and she has been instrumental in much of her healthcare work.

Williams and Dr. Desai did not respond to requests for comment, and Apple refused to make them available.

In addition to overseeing a clinic known as AC Wellness, Dr. Desai’s team deals with regulatory relationships, leads collaborative research, and provides clinical expertise on Apple’s other health products.

A recent initiative by Dr. Desai’s team, a digital health app called Health Habit, tested by California-based Apple employees, has been suffering from low engagement about six months before the app was released. is.

HealthHabit Suggest connecting people and clinicians through chat and encourage them to set health challenges such as “exercise more this week.” People with a history of high blood pressure can send a sphygmomanometer to weigh and connect with a health coach who can advise on healthier habits.

The screenshot shows Apple’s Health Habit app.



According to people familiar with documents and apps, as of May, half of the people who downloaded it did not register, and many who registered have low engagement.

Some people say that the data that supports the app’s hypertension program raises new concerns among employees about the integrity of internal data and analytics.

During the presentation to all Apple Health employees in March, Williams praised the clinic’s results in treating hypertension and pointed them out as evidence to support the potential of the Health Habit app, according to people who saw the presentation. did. He suggested that if the app succeeds, the company may have broader ambitions for the app.

At the meeting, Williams presented data showing that 91% of patients in Apple’s clinic with more severe stage 2 hypertension had a healthier stage or improved to normal, according to a document reviewed by the journal. Success, according to those who attended the conference and documents.

Rival companies that offer high blood pressure apps have shown low success rates. Hello Heart Inc. reported that 23% of stage 2 patients saw a significant improvement in blood pressure in 6 weeks. Livongo claimed that one-third of patients with stage 1 hypertension or higher increased or improved to the normal range in 6 weeks. According to the document, Williams’ data did not include a time frame.

An Apple spokesman said other companies are analyzing hypertension data differently, and that the data Williams quoted at the meeting is for internal pilots, not products.

Write to Rolfe Winkler at

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Apple is struggling to push healthcare to its greatest legacy

Source link Apple is struggling to push healthcare to its greatest legacy

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