Once again, I find myself delaying other blogs to address what a friend, mentor, and supporter had sent me. I received a news article on Tim Cook, the President of Apple, Inc. (AAPL)
First, I will admit that even though I have an iPhone 6S, I am not a fan of Apple, so this is not a glass-eyed adoration. I was a first generation IBM-PC guy from the start; in part, because the PC was at first a locally engineered product based in Boca Raton, Florida.
I will also admit that Apple has had the culture of innovation while under Steve Jobs and what Apple thinks matters. So back to Cook; the title of the CNBC feature is “Tim Cook: Why the Apple Watch is key in the ‘enormous’ health care market.”
To quote the article:
Health care is an “enormous” opportunity for Apple, chief executive Tim Cook said Tuesday, as he outlined how the Apple Watch could become a warning system for your body, similar to those in cars that warn drivers when something is wrong.
“If you think about some of society’s biggest problems and challenges, one of the ones that we are really focused on is health,” Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said.
I wish I could talk to him one day and share from the bottom up, the problems with healthcare. He is right, and we have discussed the issue of healthcare, as the number one issue facing an aging world today. Yes, we have other issues however, when you realize that healthcare is both the largest industry on earth, and possibly one of the few industries that are not transformed by technology (the other I have also talked about is education) my perspective may be justified that healthcare is number one.
Putting medical diagnostics to the side, we have had few innovations in the last 20 years. The issue is not only that technology has been used sparingly but also, healthcare is on the verge of a techonomic shift; this shift is not coming from government or employers, but from the consumers.
The issue is who is the customer in healthcare? Apple knows its customer, until recently it was the technology consumer. Now it would seem to that everyone touches healthcare. You want Apple Pay to work better? Infuse it into healthcare and make payment of medical procedures nearly instant. There is no real reason why it can’t work instantly. Credit cards today are processed immediately as pending, though the transaction is effective in a day or so; the transaction can be rescinded or even contested. Why can’t we do the same for healthcare? Today, some fast processing can happen with Medicare, and maybe a little longer with Medicaid – a very large portion is processed slowly, most within 20 days.
The Florida Statues for example says:
All Electronically Submitted Claims
• A health insurer must acknowledge receipt of an electronic filed claim within 24 hours after receipt of the claim
• Within 20 days after receipt of the claim, a health insurer must pay or notify the provider or designee if a claim is denied or contested
• A provider must submit additional information regarding the denied or contested claim within 35 days after receipt of the notification
• An insurer must pay or deny a claim within 90 days after receipt of the claim. Failure to pay or deny a claim within 120 days after receipt of claim creates an uncontestable obligation to pay the claim
I have been hoping for decades that the credit card processing or banks would help solve that issue more quickly. It is true that managed care will have a major impact on medical billing however, not fast enough. That is just one example how healthcare needs AAPL creativity.
Without a doubt another way is connecting the patients. As we wrote in our last blog, the wearable devices are really only good if they are connected to the consumer medical record and are then actionable.
The article went on to say that AAPL has made healthcare “a big focus” over the past two years. Mr. Cook was right in that the patient needs to really feel like a customer. The healthcare industry has a conflict! Who is the customer? Who is the payor? Who is the employer, or the user of the healthcare? Interestingly enough, the other industry that had a similar issue on who is the customer is education. Who pays whom in the middle-man facilitation, and who is the user?
Furthermore, Mr. Cook was very correct in commenting, “I think the runway there is enormous.” Again, the issue is not collecting the data – today that is very easy – the issue is aggregating the data, putting it in context, and then into the hands of those beyond the patient that can see the entire picture to make decisions.
The article concludes with these key points:
70 percent of health care organizations worldwide set to invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring, and virtual care by 2018, according to IDC.
A number of major technology companies including Samsung and Google have also been focusing on devices and software for users to track their health metrics. Wrist wearable devices can be used to measure heart rate among other metrics.
“One day, this is my prediction, we will look back and we will wonder: how can I ever have gone without the Apple Watch? Because the holy grail of the watch is being able to monitor more and more of what’s going on in the body. It’s not technologically possible to do it today to the extent that we can imagine, but it will be,” Cook said.
My only advise is to understand that the way to make the device valuable, is to interconnect it to a live, complex system (not just your iPhone) that also stores historical health and medical information such the patient’s, or now more appropriately, the consumer’s Personal Wellness electronic Record™.
Where have you read that before?
Noel J. Guillama, President