At the just past WWDC2020, Apple announced that it added native sleep monitoring to watchOS 7: as long as the user wears the Apple Watch before falling asleep, it can determine whether the user is asleep by detecting wrist movements and calculate the length of sleep.
The early Apple Watch focused on heart rate monitoring and fitness functions. In the following years, Apple has added features such as fall detection, emergency call, menstrual tracking and noise detection to this device. This “personal” device can do more and more things. In 2019, the growth rate of the Apple Watch business was as high as 40%, and global shipments reached 30 million units.
The health data of these tens of millions of users will eventually be collected into an application called “health” on the iPhone. And how does Apple’s abacus play?
A bridge with users and medical institutions at both ends
The number of wearable devices is exploding, and more and more sensors glowing in green light are coming close to people’s skin. We can even buy mattresses that connect to the Internet to detect sleep quality and toilets that support urine testing. However, medical institutions have not used these scattered health data, nor have they released relevant data generated internally. In other words, there is a bridge between users and medical institutions.
What if Apple could become this bridge?
In addition to storing the health data collected by Apple Watch, it can also aggregate data generated by various wearable devices, fitness equipment and other networked devices, and integrate it with traditional health records such as test results and medical records. In this way, the old island-like data sets can be connected.
Imagine that when you register as a member in a new gym, your exercise data will be aggregated into Apple Health, and these data can flow in both directions. In this way, the coach can understand your spondylosis and the doctor can also access your exercise information in real time. The recording of health data has become more “continuous”, the medical system will become more efficient, doctors can improve the accuracy of diagnosis, and early detection of user’s condition.
But the realization of this vision depends on whether Apple can gain the trust of the government and medical institutions. Researcher Nathan Baschez believes that Apple’s slogan “Privacy First” in recent years is most likely to be a stepping stone to enter the door of medical institutions.
Last year, Apple hung a huge advertisement on the wall on the side of the Las Vegas Convention Center and reiterated its position on privacy issues with “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”｜Visual China
Baschez said that before Apple’s “health” appeared, the patient’s health data was strictly protected by medical institutions.
In addition, these medical institutions often obstruct attempts to integrate electronic health records (EHR) into mobile devices. In addition to Apple’s privacy concerns, Apple’s huge user base is also an attractive bargaining chip. Medical companies can use Apple’s user base to conduct large-scale surveys and research. This mutually beneficial relationship is the prerequisite for bilateral cooperation.
Apple’s focus on the “health” market is not a hot brain.
As early as 2014, Apple released the mobile application platform HealthKit, taking its first step in the medical and health field. After that, part of the user’s exercise data such as steps and heart rate can be collected into HealthKit through iPhone and Apple Watch.
HealthKit can create a personal security file, when you need to know, the relevant health data will be clearly presented in front of you｜Apple
In 2015, along with the original Apple Watch, there was also ResearchKit. HealthKit is for individuals, similar to private health consultants; while ResearchKit is an open source platform, mainly for medical workers.
Medical researchers can analyze the collected medical data on the basis of ResearchKit to create various targeted health applications. The establishment of such applications not only facilitates the diagnosis and treatment of related diseases, but also strengthens the exchange and sharing between researchers and institutions in this field.
Only in the year that ResearchKit was launched, the App Store already had applications for detecting cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and asthma.
The industry believes that Apple Watch, HealthKit and ResearchKit will together form Apple’s “magic weapon” in the mobile medical field｜Apple
Since the release of ResearchKit, it has attracted widespread attention from the outside world, especially from the medical community. As of March 2015, ResearchKit’s partners include Oxford University School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and other world-renowned medical research centers, and Xuanwu Hospital of the Capital Medical University in China has also participated in the collection and application of ResearchKit platform data.
In 2018, Apple announced the inclusion of EMR data into “health” and also announced that it will open its health record API to third parties through HealthKit. Users can log in to their own portal, import health record data into their mobile phones, and then provide data access to the applications of their choice.
For example, Pokémon GO and Oscar called step tracking, and the salad chain Sweetgreen integrated HealthKit, which records the meals ordered through the app to the patient’s health record.
With the platform and software as the foundation, what actions did Apple do on the hardware?
Just like what Apple did in software: Apple’s “health” is used as a repository for multi-party data, and only some healthy applications that are just “enough” are developed, allowing third-party developers to create more in-depth with the help of HealthKit’s API. application. Apple also has the same idea in terms of hardware. It has only developed a few health devices and opened the platform to let better hardware manufacturers such as WHOOP, Oura and Eight Sleep develop medical devices for it.
The deepest moat
According to CB Insights’ 2019 data, there are more than US$7 trillion in the global healthcare market (close to 10% of global GDP), which is much larger than the mobile phone market. “With the release of Apple’s Health Record and Apple Watch with single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) function, this company clearly has officially entered the field of healthcare.” CB Insights also believes that Apple wants to focus on personal health records To build the first third-party friendly medical platform.