The Apple origin story has grown beyond cult status to true mythological levels. It was Facebook before Facebook, Amazon before Amazon. A genius computer scientist and perhaps the best marketer and consumer design strategist of his era went on to build the first trillion dollar company by market cap. Their inventions completely changed the way we live our lives, from the mouse to the GUI, from the iPod and iTunes to the iPhone and Apple Music, there is hardly a part of our modern economy and lives that Apple hasn’t or does not touch in some way. And with the advent of wearables, might they be pointing that technological innovation at a legacy industry ripe for disruption? According to a new report from Morgan Stanley, Apple may have that very thing in mind for the healthcare industry.
By and large, the healthcare industry has suffered from a lack of data for the vast majority of its existence. Sure, insurers have access to your health records and can actuarially determine your relative likelihood of losing them money based on the procedures and surgeries you’ve had. But they don’t have a lot of insight into how we actually live our lives, because most of that data is self-identified — do you smoke or not? How often do you exercise? Are you smashing fast food on the regular? So on and so forth.
And that’s where Apple comes in.
Those among us who live healthier lives don’t get a markedly different rate than those of us who don’t, because insurers don’t really have a way of tracking it or proving it — wearables changed all that.
Now, some might bristle at the idea of allowing insurers access to that level of personal data (and to be honest, I don’t totally blame folks in this camp) because if mandated, it might end up punishing people regressively instead of only rewarding folks who ought to be rewarded. But for purposes of this post, let’s set aside that well-founded fear to focus more on the thought experiment of what it could mean for those who opt in to these programs.
According to Cult of Mac, “several Apple Watch wearers say they been alerted to potentially life-threatening heart ailments of the built-in ECG. Other wearers say nutrition and fitness apps have to lead to better health and a future version of the watch is expected to include blood pressure and glucose monitoring.”
We’ve written about it too — heart monitoring could change the game, and blood pressure and glucose monitoring could likewise save consumer lives. But to what level?
Cult of Mac summarizes Morgan Stanley’s analysts who conclude “Apple devices and a growing number of App Store apps are in the early stages of what the 14 analysts predict will be a digital disruption to the health care industry worth as much as $313 billion by 2027.” Apple isn’t slated to capture all that market value, but “[h]ealth care is a market where Apple has the potential to lead digital disruption – much like what iTunes did for music or the App Store for mobile services,” according to Bloomberg. “Based on what it has done over the last five years, we see Apple creating the building blocks of another ecosystem.”
We all know what Apple did to the music industry with iTunes, so it’s not a far reach to imagine what they could do in this space, too. The amount of useful data watches could provide on our daily health could really incentivize lifestyle changes, not just for the inherent benefits, but also for monetary ones provided by insurance providers. Now, would they offer rewards with no penalties for choosing not to wear one of these watches? Who knows, but if we get all carrot and no stick, it could be a huge change in the way insurance prices policies for consumers.
It could be pretty huge business for Apple to. According to CEO Tim Cook in a TIME interview earlier this year, “Apple’s largest contribution to mankind will be improving people’s health and well-being.”
“Apple’s largest contribution to mankind will be improving people’s health and well-being,” CEO Tim Cook said in a TIME interview earlier this year.