Welcoming Apple To The Health Care World: Health Features And Apps

Apple Inc. published a nearly 60-page report Wednesday outlining all its health features and partnerships with medical institutions, arguing that such offerings are key to the tech giant’s future.

The company pointed to its breadth of existing services — from sleep monitoring and fitness classes to atrial-fibrillation detection and cycle tracking — and promised to build on that foundation. Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, who oversees Apple’s health endeavors, says in a statement attached to the report that the company will continue to innovate in “science-based technology.”

“The health innovations we’ve pioneered have aimed to help break down barriers between users and their own everyday health data, between health care providers and patients, and between researchers and study participants,” he says.

The report serves as a response to Apple critics, who have knocked the company for not doing as much as rivals in health care. Though the Apple Watch dominates the market, the device hasn’t always gotten novel health features as quickly as competitors’ products. And fellow tech titans such as Amazon.com Inc. and Google have made ambitious forays into the medical field — with mixed results.

Apple is arguing that it’s a pioneer in health technology and positioned to use it as a growth driver in the years ahead. Already, fitness features are a major selling point for the Apple Watch, and the company plans to add capabilities related to women’s health and body-temperature monitoring as part of a new lineup coming this year, Bloomberg reports. Apple also is working on technologies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring that could come later.

Health technology is one of several categories that Apple hopes will help maintain sales growth. The company is also working on a mixed-reality headset for next year, along with augmented reality glasses, foldable devices and a self-driving electric car.

While the company doesn’t charge for its health features directly, the enhancements could help fuel sales of future devices. The company also offers a Fitness+ subscription service that could eventually add more health tie-ins.

Cracking health services has been a challenging task for Silicon Valley companies. Google shuttered its dedicated health unit last year, though it does own companies in the space, such as Verily and Fitbit. Amazon has made strides, including with an online pharmacy service and partnerships with in-person health care providers. Samsung Electronics Co., meanwhile, has its own health app and offers some similar features to Apple.

In its report, Apple says it has an edge creating new offerings because of its research studies. A feature to analyze an iPhone user’s walking steadiness, for instance, was created based on data collected by over 100,000 users. The company also has partnered with several medical institutions and researchers, including UCLA.

The iPhone and Apple Watch now support features across 17 areas of fitness and health, according to the report. And the Health app can store more than 150 types of health-related data.

Moreover, there are tens of thousands of third-party apps on the App Store that can tap into the Health app, the report says. The company is adding medication tracking and reminders and new workout features to its devices this fall.


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