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Analysis

Former Apple CEO Praises Tech Giant's Healthcare Goals

By Jack O'Brien  
   January 10, 2019

John Sculley, who headed Apple Inc. from 1983 to 1993, believes the tech company is on the right track to make a significant impact in healthcare.

Among the many corporate disruptors aiming to reshape the healthcare industry, Apple Inc. is in prime position to move the needle and meet consumer needs, according to former CEO John Sculley. 

As the Cupertino, California-based tech giant eyes further entry into healthcare, Sculley told HealthLeaders that current CEO Tim Cook has the company on the right trajectory to make an impact on health services and positively affect consumers.

"Tim Cook has publicly said Apple sees augmented reality, driverless cars, and consumer health-tech as areas of possible future interest for innovation," Sculley said. "In my opinion, AR and driverless cars are still several years away for revenue at the scale that Apple would be interested in. Consumer-facing health tech innovation is poised now for commercialization beyond today’s step tracking wearables. Apple Watch is an example with its built-in EKG and Afib monitor."

One of the most prominent aspects of Apple's drive into healthcare is the Apple Watch Series 4, which will feature cardiac monitoring technology called an electrocardiogram (EKG). The company has heralded the consumer wellness aspects of the latest version of the Apple Watch, stating in a press release that the device provides "revolutionary health capabilities." 

While the upgrade has spurred media and technological fascination, it has also received a skeptical response from some physicians who worry that the Apple Watch EKG might indeed provide more data but not better data.  

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Sculley, who currently serves as CMO of RxAdvance Health, a cloud-based pharmacy benefit manager, remains upbeat about the potential for tech companies to provide medical devices and services in line with the consumerism that is affecting healthcare.   

"The timing is right for consumer-facing tech companies interested in other non-invasive sensor innovations that are being productized," Sculley said. "This includes new technologies for glucose monitoring, dermatology, heart, cholesterol monitoring, and more."

Sculley is also not alone in his praise of Apple's ambitions to expand into another market, as TheStreet noted Wednesday that the company could be an interesting investment based on their activity in healthcare. The company's stock price dipped shortly after New Year's Day but has steadily risen throughout January. 

"I believe healthcare will transform from a hierarchical, vertical, siloed, industry into a horizontal, platform-based, continuum-of-care industry organized around empowering consumers with amazing technology tools – giving ordinary people better control over their own wellness and preventive care," Sculley said. "It happened in telecommunications, retailing, financial services, and there will be innovators who will lead this revolution in healthcare too."

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders. 

Photo credit: Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the launch event for the iPad 6 at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 27, 2018. - Image. Editorial credit: John Gress Media Inc / Shutterstock.com


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Current CEO Tim Cook kicked off 2019 by announcing the company would continue its push into healthcare.

Sculley said the time is right for "consumer-facing tech companies."

Lately, much attention has been paid to the new Apple Watch, which features electrocardiogram capabilities.


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