Is an Apple for Healthcare Possible?

Tech blogger Robert Scoble answered a question “Why does Apple gets more media coverage than other companies” [sic]. His answer concerning how Apple garners so much useful attention (read: revenue-earning) is worth checking out from a marketing perspective.

But it got me thinking: How come there isn’t an Apple for Healthcare?

Apple’s entire enterprise is built around design and excellence and remarkability.

Healthcare is (supposed to) be built around design and excellence and remarkability.

Now I’m not saying that there aught to be one company – just like Apple – for Healthcare.

It’s the concept of Apple.

Just as Steve Jobs had the foresight and chutzpah to keep mutating his company – from the computer industry to the music industry to the content generation industry – Healthcare needs visionaries who don’t think along the same old lines with which they’ve gotten comfortable.


Here are the roots of the problems with today’s healthcare:

  • Modern Healthcare has its roots in the industrial age.
  • Modern Medicine has its roots on the battlefield.
  • Modern Nursing has its roots in a female-dominated profession within a male-dominated society.

Think of the lock-in contained in those three points!

If you look at the entire industry of healthcare – and the other industries which orbit it – the tasks of tugging it into the 21st Century look depressing.

It just seems overwhelming: the industry is so vast, so expansive – it’s too much for an Apple to emerge. What would it do? Whom would it serve? What purpose?

There are ideas about innovation in healthcare. Howard Luks, MD has several of them right here. You can add yours.

But there is hope in one specific but huge area: Personalized Medicine.


Personalized Medicine isn’t just a buzzword: Medicine is suposed to be personalized.

Healthcare got depersonalized along the way. But when and where?

In the industrial age. On the battlefield. In the pressure-cooker of stubborn political institutions.

I’m sure many people think there can’t be an Apple for Healthcare – it’s too daunting.

Yes. But also no.

There’s sufficient design space in Personalized Medicine for an Apple.

Why? Because so many of modern Healthcare’s interventions are off-the-mark.

Why 81mg for Aspirin? Why not 82mg?

With personalized medicine, what your liver does with drugs won’t be such a mystery. That’s HUGE.

With personalized medicine, what a drug does to your liver won’t be known after it starts to fail.

With personalized medicine, entire classes of new technologies will emerge, and in the process create new economies.

And if personalized medicine is going to be done remarkably well, it will have to be done by an Apple. Or, rather, several Apples.

If you believe it can’t be done, then it can’t be done.

If you believe it’s possible, then it’s possible. And if it’s possible, then becomes responsible.

It’ll have to be done by people who know all about design and shine.

It’ll have to be done by people who know how to take healthy bites out of the status quo.

And you know what they say about apples and doctors.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial@Apples and Foot Massages

0 Replies to “Is an Apple for Healthcare Possible?”

  1. Phil, This is very possible. The issue is not the ability to come up with products. The major issue is the resistance of doctors to change. Their very narrow minded approach. I often joke that if a doctor took a vacation he’d spend more time finding out whether the plane would fly and demand test reports on the plane rather than figuring out what to do on his vacation when he got there. They are very slow to take up new tools. The new personalized “Health care Apple” would come out mainly via diagnostics and testing. The only way this can happen is for the patients (who really are the consumers) to take the lead. If you recall communism and the fall of Eastern Europe was caused by the people NOT by the Government changing. That is why social media and the health care consumers taking matters into their own hands and taking the lead is the ONLY way this will happen.

    1. Hi Srini!

      The vacation metaphor is hilarious.

      Yes, this is mainly a demand-sided market.

      However, one of the things Apple does, is to lead the consumer – that is, it “knows” what the consumer doesn’t know until Apple shows it.

      So, agree: it will take consumer action, but I’m pretty sure there’s an enterprise opportunity there.


  2. Phil, you are so bang-on with “the roots of the problems with today’s healthcare”. I want to be an Apple for healthcare. How do I do this? I have an RN background and I’m looking into an MSc in Health Informatics. What other considerations should I take?

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