Apple may be poised to disrupt the retail healthcare market

“Wall Street kept its cool Tuesday, Oct. 17, after reports surfaced that Apple Inc. was in talks to acquire health clinic startup Crossover Health,” Cathaleen Chen writes for TheStreet. “Apple has long dabbled in healthcare innovation, most significantly with its Apple Watch apps to monitor health. To tech heavyweights like… Apple, the healthcare industry’s shortcomings, such as declining productivity and a shortage of physicians, can be a goldmine for investment.”

“Healthcare retail clinics, for instance, emerged more than a decade ago to offer customers the convenience of getting minor treatment without seeing a doctor. Instead, they can visit their local CVS Health CVS or Walmart Stores, Inc.,” Chen writes. “But while the number of retail clinics increased in the last decade, it has yet to prove to be both economically viable on a mass scale or disruptive in how patients receive treatment… To truly penetrate the trillion-dollar healthcare market, Apple has its work cut out.”

“NBC first reported Monday, Oct. 16, that Apple has been in talks with Crossover Health for months before the deal fell through, citing sources close to the company. Crossover Health builds onsite medical clinics for big companies, including Apple itself. Apple’s interest in retail healthcare is not new; one of the sources said its health team has looked into possibilities for over a year,” Chen writes. “It remains unclear whether Apple wants to move into the retail clinic space or develop wearable health products through Apple Watch.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Any additional moves Apple makes towards disruption in healthcare would be logical given that Apple Watch and Apple’s health tools (ResearchKit, CareKit, HealthKit, etc.) were born from Steve Jobs’ health issues.

Apple explored buying a health care clinic as part of a bigger push into health care – October 17, 2017
Apple Heart Study could turn Apple Watch into a ‘must have’ for millions of patients – September 12, 2017
Apple’s health and fitness push picks up steam as it turns 3 – July 13, 2017
Key Stanford researcher joins Apple’s digital healthcare talent pool – June 23, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been test-driving a device that tracks his blood sugar, connected to his Apple Watch – May 18, 2017
Apple reportedly working on incorporating blood glucose sensor into Apple Watch – May 15, 2017
Apple secret team reportedly working holy grail for treating diabetes; initially envisioned by Steve Jobs – April 12, 2017
Apple patent details Apple Watch smart bands – January 24, 2017
Emails between Apple and FDA hint at future plans – December 1, 2016
Analyst: Apple smartbands are a part of the Apple Watch’s future – April 8, 2016
Apple Watch health and fitness labs, inspired by Steve Jobs, still operating overtime – May 10, 2016
Steve Jobs’ healthcare frustration the genesis for Apple’s ‘iWatch’ – September 8, 2014


  1. Can’t make it any worse.

    It is amazing what percent of my income goes towards insurance/deductibles.

    Through in the fact that I do a lot for my own preventive healthcare that I can NOT deduct or claim, it is frustrating.

    There is no such thing as free. Single payer is not free. The money comes from somewhere.

    Here is an example of one of my frustrations. I use to see a doctor on a regular basis for treating “X”. I would see the bills he sent my insurance company. They were for over $800 each time. Plus, I would have to pay $100 per visit even after my max out of pocket was reached each year.

    I found a different doctor. He takes zero insurance, cash only. Exact same procedure each visit. He charged me $125 per visit. Problem is no of that could be sent through insurance and couldn’t be applied to my annual deductible/max out of pocket.

    Why was it over $800 if insurance was going to pay for it (plus another $100 per visit the insurance wouldn’t cover) versus $125 cash and visiting a doctor outside of the system. Again, exact same procedure.

    No one pays attention to what anything cost. Oh, I have insurance, insurance is paying for it. Oh, I have medicare/medicaid, the government is paying for it. No wonder healthcare is so expensive because no one is paying attention to what anything cost. Who cares what monthly premiums are if you can’t afford the annual deductible.

  2. Apple isn’t set to disrupt anything in healthcare unless it can manage to design some instrument that can measure blood glucose levels using a non-invasive method. Other than that, look for some other company to sell low-cost products to the healthcare industry unless the insurance companies are willing to foot the bill to supply their subscribers with AppleWatches.

    If Apple’s deal with Crossover Health fell through then Apple is no closer to disrupting healthcare more than any other company. If it were Amazon making the deal it would have gone through just like Jeff Bezos manages to get everything done to keep Amazon growing. I’d like to know why the deal fell through before I offer my opinion about Apple’s usual slow progress.

  3. I am beyond weary of the term ‘disruption’, these days it’s pretty much synonymous with ‘hubris’. ‘Disruption’ for its own sake is retarded, a great many things aren’t broken. Are they actually going to *contribute* something useful, or juts make a mess of something that doesn’t really need fixing like so many startups have?

  4. First of all, there is no shortage of Doctors. The problem is how they are distributed.

    Because of the massive debt they accumulate during training, most cannot afford to set app in a small town as an independent practitioner AND the setup and overhead costs associated with running a clinic. It is not uncommon for a newly minted Doctor to be 300-400k in the hole before they buy a house build a clinic, hire any staff or buy any equipment. Then there are the costs of malpractice insurance. That is a lot of debt to be carrying right out of the box.

    So what happens is they locate in more dense areas with less needy (read healthier) patients and commonly join an existing clinic as an employee. Hospitals are buying up Physician practice groups. Other Docs trained in Primary Care will go the route of ER staff where they can work a few shifts a week with no overhead and no call. They come to work, do their shift and go home.

    You want to disrupt healthcare? Make it possible for a young person to train to be a Doctor without becoming a debt slave.

    You want to bring Pharma costs under control? Incentivize Pharma to stop selling us drugs we do not need and to spend ad and marketing money on R&D. Shorten the patent exclusivity window. Allow Medicare to negotiate global discount schedules like the VA and Department of Defense already do. Create a competitive market- not a cartel of niche providers sapping our wallets.

    You want to bring Clinic and Hospital charges under control? Make them do flat rate pricing for procedures with the prices advertised for all to see alongside their complication rates. Make equipment manufacturers use standardized components instead of proprietary stuff- they commonly do this to lock you in and then rip you off for the life cycle of the machine.

    The waste, fraud, corruption and abuse that goes on in American healthcare is stunning in it’s depth and breadth. I have been working within the system for 30 years from Military to private for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals. The over-regulation and inadequate regulation of staff and facilities is ridiculous with a hydra of government and private groups each demanding compliance with differing requirements. City, County, State and Federal Governments all stick their fingers and noses into the business and not in a common sense way. Then groups like the Joint Commission impose other rules, etc.

    Licensure is commonly all over the map- some jobs require a license in some states but not others. Some states honor a license from another state and others do not. There is a desperate need to rationalize and streamline the rules, regulations, standards, licenses, scope of practice, continuing education, competency testing, etc

    Nurses should not be taking X-Rays and Urologists should not be in practice as an Emergency Physician. Advanced Practice Nurses should not be allowed to be independent of a Licensed MD or DO. People who cannot start an IV or place an Airway should not be allowed to work as an Emergency Medical Technician. These things happen more than a little in more than a few places in the United States.

    To be honest, things are fairly fucked up in the aggregate and headed south under the suits that dominate the administration of healthcare in the US. Even as they cut licensed staff, they grow the administrative overhead who are commonly paid MORE than licensed people with more and higher education.

    Not sure how an Apple is likely to change all of that. Healthcare is between 1/6th and 1/7th of our economy, so there is money to be made.

    1. We have had our differences, but I strongly agree with your post. My 81-year-old mom recently went in to have a cancerous area cut out of her cheek – not melanoma, a far less invasive type. The process was very quick and they stitched her up and sent her home. Right around the time that she was healing up pretty well and getting the stitches out, they told her that they did not get it all. Not only does she have to go through the whole procedure again, but I assume that the doctor and facility will get paid twice for not doing the job right the first time.

      Another, much older example – I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee around 1990 to remove loose cartilage and such. I woke up in a small, curtained niche (one of eight or so) along a main hallway that they apparently used for post-op recovery. There were plenty of empty rooms. But I was put in a wheelchair and rolled down the hall into a small room with a tiny, crappy TV and a recliner to wait until my friend picked me up about 40 minutes later. I don’t recall the exact amount, but that room with the crappy TV cost $250 or so extra. I could have stayed in a nice hotel room for several days for that kind of money. I would have been find just staying where I was in the recovery area. What a waste. Hospitals are so freaking inefficient.

  5. Massive health care system problems that jack up costs:

    1) Astronomical costs of medical degrees.

    2) Astronomical costs of malpractice insurance.

    3) Astronomical costs of hospitals caring for the uninsured.

    Do we hear #MyStupidGovernment talking about curing any of these three ills?

    NO. Not with this administration and congress. Feed the rich is far more critical.

    There is such a thing as being logical, balanced and using one’s common sense. None of these are currently in evidence @ #MyStupidGovernment. #Idiocracy at work.

    They’re making a hash of things. 😉

    1. Agreed that this administration is clueless and has zero proposals, but you are missing a ton of costs that America has allowed to be wrapped into healthcare.

      When the end user doesn’t know the price tag of anything while being incessantly marketed to ask for the most expensive treatments, a fundamental problem exists. Americans demand instant gold plated service while not bothering to look at the costs. They call an ambulance and insist on ambulance rides to the ER for easily preventable conditions that would take only a modest amount of personal accountability to resolve. We have a couple generations of health idiots getting obese, hooked on drugs, and getting zero exercise and then asking for miracle pills when their bodies collapse from the abuse.

      Add to the laziness of the user the total lack of competition. Most communities have one hospital or one HMO or one GP in town. This leaves everyone including doctors at the mercy of middle men like the insurance industry, pharma, and medical device manufacturers charging whatever they want (patents ensure this).

      Obamacare was not the final answer, but it did do some good things. A better step would be to force price transparency for all things and add nonprofit insurance options in competition to the for-profit insurance mob.

      Also, use lawyers cadavers for medical research since they are good for nothing else.

      1. Thank you for an excellent addendum list.

        I’ll point out that one of the core stimuli for creating that Affordable Care Act / ‘Obamacare’, was the burden placed on emergency room hospital services by the uninsured. The result was a torrent of hospital closings and outrageous/desperate attempts by certain hospitals to get rid of uninsured patients by any means available, short of killing them. Shipping them on a bus out of town was an all too common event.

        Any ‘replacement’ that doesn’t directly solve the hospital emergency room problem, is no replacement at all. It’s just more sociopathic BS.

        I caught a blurb today from the Dr. Oz show where an expert stated the single best and immediate thing anyone can do for their health is lose weight.

        The obesity statistics are only getting worse in the USA. Meanwhile, ‘political correctness’ has enabled further obesity by way of considering it a modern ‘normal’, which it should never be. Fat shaming is cruelty. But the normalization of obesity by such things as the ‘Mike and Molly’ TV program are disturbing.

    2. Your list is in random order, right? You missed some of the biggest ones. For example:

      1) insurance profit
      2) lack of competition
      3) immoral pharma profit schemes
      4) balkanized information and regulation systems
      5) underregulation of HMOs
      6) lack of patient education
      7) lack of incentives for people to take obvious preventative health investments
      8) internet misinformation leading hypochondriac customers to demand Cadillac quality care for symptoms that need only Yugo-priced solutions
      9) Lack of death planning prompts hospitals to pull out extreme lifesaving measures for well insured/rich families who insist they must use up every option to extend life (and in many cases suffering) instead of opting for a quicker natural death.

      and many more. Apple has nothing to offer other than becoming another healthcare device maker, all of which charge > 100% profit margins for their products. Because they can. Apple isn’t satisfied with the measly 30% markup it demands on consumer electronics, which is 2-3 times what most companies extract from you. Not sure that Apple is worth it anymore. They don’t have the long term dedication to keep the Mac viable, who would trust them for health devices?

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