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Why Apple must accelerate its digital health product development

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Apple CEO Tim Cook likes to predict his company will be remembered for its achievements in health, but if COVID-19 has generated anything positive it must be the acceleration of digital healthcare. Can Apple respond?

Remote healthcare comes of age

While there’s nothing to replace the experience of a face-to-face consultation with a medical professional, initial enquiries can be made remotely, and we’ve seen a huge upswing in that tactic since the pandemic struck. In France, for example, tele-consultations accounted for 28% of all consultations in April. That’s up from just 0.1% in March.  

This kind of growth has taken place everywhere.

We’ve seen remote consultations take place worldwide, giving patients a first line of inquiry while protecting everybody’s health.

These COVID-related implementations aren’t confined to remote diagnosis. Hospital doctors are now transacting patient visits using iPads to protect against accidental infection. We’ve got apps based on Google/Apple tech to help with contact tracing, and some of the world’s biggest players in the space are merging and acquiring at a rapid clip.

We’re also seeing rapid deployment of new business offerings based on digital healthcare. CVS, for example, intends to open 1,500 health hubs, providing a range of health-related services, including on-demand video consultations.

Technavio says the sector is expanding fast, predicting a combined annual growth rate at more than 20% across the next five years. In part, this is driven by increasing acceptance and recognition of urgent need for such tools on the part of government, medical practitioners and people.

“The digital transformation that has happened in the last few months is here to stay,” Jamf CEO Dean Hager said. He was talking about both remote working and digital health provision.

Keep your distance

Look at it this way: With limited numbers of medical staff and the need to avoid infecting them, or their patients, it is appropriate to use technology to bridge the gap while still enabling people to get – and give – help.

We know we face a global pandemic of Biblical proportions. We know the human race should have been better prepared for it. History shows humanity has faced such plagues before, which means no government can realistically argue that it could not have predicted another.

We also know there will be more such outbreaks in future – and facing the current crisis has driven rapid adoption of remote healthcare solutions.

In a sense, this is the realization of a prediction by Ovum’s then-lead Healthcare & Life Sciences analyst Charlotte Davies in 2013:

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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