It is still primarily a technology company but Apple has lately been obsessing over one largely untapped market: medical technology and gadgets. It has turned the Apple Watch Series 4 into a miniature diagnostics lab, acquired and invested in medical and health startups, and is slowly but surely turning the iPhone into a digital repository for your medical records. The latter is practically what the company is discussing with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to help turn veterans’ medical records into digital form they can easily access on iPhones and iPads.
Based on the emails between Apple and the Department, the discussion has been going on for months, going as far back as last year. Although there is still no official word on how far negotiations have come, recent updates to both Apple’s software and hardware seem to be geared towards preparing for such an eventuality.
According to the messages, Apple is offering to help create specialized software that will allow around 9 million veterans to access their electronic health records on iPhones. The goal is to make it easier for retired military personnel to gather data from numerous sources and present them to doctors for their visits. Apple has recently updated iOS to let users import medical records in one convenient location. This would simply be a specialized version of that.
It won’t be a simple task, nor would it be cheap. But Apple naturally seeks to gain more than what it would spend if this deal pushes through. Not only would it give Apple street cred in the medical industry, the program would also let it partner with more medical institutions than it could have on its own. Plus, it could eventually offer subscription-based health services, similar to content it offers on its iTunes Store.
Apple is hardly the only Silicon Valley resident interested to get their hands in the health cookie jar. It is, however, perhaps one of the few trusted companies in the shortlist. While Google, or rather parent company Alphabet, is obviously interested in that market as well, medical institutions and companies are more wary of it because of privacy and secrecy implications.