7 billion reasons Apple gets health

The personal medical devices gold rush has begun. Apple is investing heavily to deliver solutions for the sector, recruiting expert health technologists to help product development. Why?

7 billion reasons Apple gets health

We need them too

At its simplest the global population is growing and life expectancy generally increasing. This strains global medical resources even while the sad truth is that we're not training enough doctors to meet the growing need. A trend to intelligent connected medical systems may boost…

Efficiency

Government think tanks worldwide have identified that on a dollar-for-dollar basis, prevention beats cure. Prevention isn't just about fostering healthy habits, it's about enabling people to monitor their own conditions. It's also a pretty good idea for health monitoring to be consistent, as it helps enable early identification of illness symptoms -- it's cheaper and more effective to treat a problem early rather than let it develop into a full-blown condition. There's a…

Drive

There's numerous government and non-government drives across the planet to boost personal health through mobile. This has spawned multiple solutions, from text-based monitoring of pregnancy in remote parts of Africa to personal diabetes monitors to mobile-based Big Data analysis systems to identify the sources of mass outbreaks of killer disease. Most of these solutions depend on…

Mobility

Carriers have invested heavily in mobile health research. Certainly they hope to make a few bucks delivering the networks on which mobile health solutions will run. Why mobile solutions? The answer here should be obvious: the best personal health monitor you can carry will be the one you always carry with you, and people nearly always remember to pick up their mobile devices when they travel. Everybody wants to be…

Connected

Connectivity is critical to effective health monitoring. You see, while today's first-generation systems (Fitbit, Nike+ et al.) help us maintain physical fitness, future devices will communicate directly with professional medical services. This means your heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar analysis and activity levels will be shared with your chosen doctor(s) 24/7 in real time. Healthcare providers will invest in Big Data systems (PDF) to analyze this information, watching for signs of ill health in order to treat conditions fast. Insurance companies will use this information to detect local trends, and will likely then adjust health insurance costs in response. (No doubt wealthier areas will pay less for health insurance because they have fewer problems, creating health "ghettoes"). The onus will be…

Personal care

Staff shortages and the move to connected medical care systems will generate a shift in the power balance between patients and doctors. While today we visit the doctor to get help, in future we will be expected to take more personal responsibility. We will be warned when a problem looms, and we'll be advised what to do through our devices. Logically this suggests the only time we'll get to meet doctors in the flesh is when our health monitoring systems tell us we require medical intervention, or because we're dead and they need to declare why.

Seven billion customers

The big corporations aren't being altruistic in their attempt to introduce medical solutions. They hope to capitalize on the personal health needs of the planet's seven billion inhabitants. Governments will support them in these attempts in order to cut health care costs while affordably extending the useful tax paying lives of their citizens. This conjunction of human need along with government fiscal strategy and demographic demand makes mobile medical a key market for future IT industry growth. Health care is good business. Which is why Apple is investing in it.

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