Original article featured in ReadWrite.
Apple has gone beyond its original vision in many ways through the years, and one of the most significant is its moves into the healthcare space. CEO Tim Cook recently shared that he believed it will be his company’s “greatest contribution to mankind.” But the fact that it’s moving in this direction now might be exactly what Apple needs to rekindle the spirit of innovation it once had.
Healthcare could be the key to making tech innovation again.
Apple’s newfound pivot toward health is leading to more competition in the wearable health space. Fitbit recently teamed up with Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer Alliance to develop a way to detect irregular heart rhythms in a pursuit to compete with the Apple Watch.
The tech competition in healthcare will certainly lead to exciting innovations.
Apple is seeking to reignite the creativity and disruptive work it was known for in the Steve Jobs era. Unfortunately, too many of its projects just aren’t excelling like they used to. Its driverless car unit, for example, wasn’t great for a number of reasons, including its inability to capitalize on the data being pulled in by Apple Maps. The innovation simply wasn’t there.
Because Apple operates as a publicly-traded company, it doesn’t have total freedom to take bold risks at any point in time.
Like other tech giants, the company is beholden to the vicissitudes of the markets, hedge funds, pension funds, private equity analysts, and other institutional investors. Innovation is more of a challenge when you have to show shareholders a predictable revenue stream and a regular uptick in profits quarter after quarter to maintain support.
Long-term goals take a backseat to achieve short-term growth that’s easily provable.
Short-term growth prioritization inevitably results in bold, creative ideas taking a back seat as well. While Apple has undoubtedly gotten caught in this cycle, an opportunity is looming for it to move into the healthcare space, where the innovation the company was built on is in high demand.
How Tech Is Transforming Healthcare
As Baby Boomers enter retirement, our society will be increasingly reliant on and powered by high-tech healthcare solutions. People are living longer than ever before, and there aren’t enough caregivers, doctors, nurses, and senior living facilities to take care of the aging population.
More than that, Baby Boomers don’t necessarily want to move into assisted living facilities or rely on other people to take care of them. They’d rather age at home. Thankfully, technology is making it possible for them to do just that.
Because of remote health monitoring tools, wearable devices, and telemedicine, the idea of “aging in place” is becoming more of a reality.
Imagine being in your 70s or 80s and having a blood pressure machine and a smart scale that sends all of your health data to the cloud. AI will track it in real-time to determine whether the data is trending up or down. If it’s the latter or if a new issue is spotted, you’ll be alerted and invited to the hospital where you can receive preventative care.
Until the past few years, our healthcare system has been set up in such a way that it provides reactionary care. Hospitals, physicians, insurance companies, and the federal government have been laser-focused on treating illness, disease, and discomfort. Healthcare issues are treated when they occur rather than preventing problems before they become a problem.
Providers are focusing more on prevention.
A paradigm shift among providers to focus on prevention is being bolstered by startups that offer groundbreaking devices, cloud solutions, mobile technology, and more for seamless, personal, and efficient healthcare.
For instance, in the span of just a few years, we’ve managed to move medical records from paper and carbon to the cloud.
Patient records can now be stored securely, accessed easily, updated when necessary, and shared among providers instantaneously. The claim is that all of the information is leading to better patient experiences and outcomes.
The technology sector is finally undergoing momentous change.
The change in the technology sector creates huge opportunities for Cook and other entrepreneurial spirits who have a desire to innovate and leave a mark on the world.
Solutions need to be addressed now.
They’ll find no shortage of problems that need solving — an aging population, fewer caretakers, rising costs, increased demand. As the healthcare transformation picks up speed, the potential for technology to be a part of that transformation is growing.
The critical need for innovative technology in the healthcare space makes getting back to the creativity of the Steve Jobs era more possible than ever before. Now is the time for technology companies to rise to the challenge.
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