By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Apple Inc on Wednesday released a report outlining a two-pronged strategy in digital health markets, courting consumers with health and fitness features on one hand while engaging with traditional healthcare systems on the other.
Spearheaded by Apple’s chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, the report is the first time Apple has offered a comprehensive view of its approach to healthcare markets in the eight years since it began releasing health features such as a medical records storage system on iPhones. It has also started partnering with institutions such the Stanford University School of Medicine to conduct large-scale formal medical studies.
Much of the work has centered around the Apple Watch, a device that Williams played a key role in bringing to market and which contains sensors for heart health and other functions.
In the report, Apple said its focus for consumers is on providing a secure place for users to store their health and medical information on iPhones while using tools like the Apple Watch to warn and nudge users toward better health. The device can alert people to heart irregularities and detect when a person takes a hard fall to alert an emergency contact, among other features. Apple said its system can now store 150 different types of health data that is encrypted so that only users, not Apple, can access it.
The company also outlined work it is doing with medical researchers to allow them to use Apple devices to conduct studies, as well as allow patients to share and discuss data collected by Apple devices so that they can monitor their health better between doctor’s visits.
Williams wrote in the report that Apple intends to keep developing health-related features for both users and the healthcare industry.
“Our vision for the future is to continue to create science-based technology that equips people with even more information and acts as an intelligent guardian for their health, so they’re no longer passengers on their own health journey,” Williams wrote.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Matthew Lewis)