Despite lacking new health-related innovations on its most recent iPhone 8 and iPhone X release announcement, Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) is still focused on the healthcare industry, CEO Tim Cook told Fortune magazine.
The tech giant has recently made strides towards making its iPhone devices healthcare-connected central depositories, announcing in June it would team with Health Gorilla to add health and diagnostic lab data and with DexCom to integrate G5 CGM support into its Apple Watch, alongside rumors that the company was looking to acquire Aetnahealth.
“We’re extremely interested in this area. And, yes, it is a business opportunity. If you look at it, medical health activity is the largest or second-largest component of the economy, depending on which country in the world you’re dealing with,” Cook told Fortune.
But Cook said that in exploring innovation in healthcare, Apple had found that most companies were less focused on patients than they were on reimbursements.
“And it hasn’t been constructed in a way where the focus at the device level is making great products from a pure point of view. The focus has been on making products that can get reimbursed through the insurance companies, through Medicare, or through Medicaid. And so in some ways we bring a totally fresh view into this and say, ‘Forget all of that. What will help people?'” Cook said.
The Apple Watch has been a major focal point for the company’s healthcare efforts, as the device includes a a number of health diagnostics, and Cook said he expects the watch to continue growing as a diagnostic.
“One of the things that we’ve learned that we’ve been really surprised and delighted about is this device, because of the monitoring of the heart, has essentially alerted people through the collection of the data that they have a problem. And that spurred them to go to the doctor and say, ‘Look at my heart rate data. Is something wrong?’ And a not-insignificant number have found out if they hadn’t come into the doctor they would have died,” Cook told Fortune in an interview.
Cook said that the company would continue to invest in its app-based ResearchKit program, touting a number of 1st-of-their-kind studies since the implementation, but gave the caveat that the project was not designed to be a money maker for the company.
“There’s no business model there. Honestly, we don’t make any money on that. But it was something that we thought would be good for society and so we did it. Will it eventually lead us somewhere? We’ll find out. I can’t answer that today,” Cook said.
Cook also teased that the company was developing products for the healthcare field, but said many of the projects he couldn’t talk about.
“There’s much more in the health area. There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t tell you about that we’re working on, some of which it’s clear there’s a commercial business there. And some of it it’s clear there’s not. And some of it it‘s not clear. I do think it’s a big area for Apple’s future,” Cook told Fortune.