Saturday, April 26, 2014

Apple and healthcare -- what if Cook went for the ring?

Everyone expects Apple to soon sell some personal monitoring device like the suspiciously defunct Nike Fuel Band. We remember that the “revolutionary” iPod was just another MP3 player [1]; we expect something like that.

We expect it, and we expect to yawn. It will be overpriced and the value proposition will be even less clear than the soon-to-be-ex-iPad value prop.

But what if Cook surprises? What if he’s tired of being Apple’s accountant? What could Apple do to surprise us?

No, Apple wouldn’t do some kind “electronic health record” type thing. They’re not that dumb. But Apple is powerful enough to get, for example, both Cerner and EpicCare to use an Apple supported direct-to-patient connection channel. It would entirely proprietary of course, but it would be big. The rest of the HCIT industry would follow along. Apple could build the elder-care infrastructure I’ve imagined (and make use of the iPhablet-displaced iPads). There’s a lot of room to play if one stays clear of both the medical device regulatory framework and the brutal economics of the provider-oriented market.

Personally, I expect FuelBand 2. But if any Apple creativity has survived Cook’s executive salary boosts and Jobs wage-suppression scheme there is room for surprise.

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[1] The revolutionary bit was iTunes and CD ripping to go with the iPod. All forgotten now. The first iPhone blew my mind, but some of the early PalmOS phones sorta kinda had the idea. Apple invents more than Microsoft (Samsung learned to follow from the master), but it also builds on what’s before.

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