First with its iPod, and then with its iPhone and iPad, Apple has successfully introduced the kind of disruptive innovation that has helped redefine whole industries. Today, Apple continues to help shape the way Americans consume media and communicate with one another. Tomorrow, Apple may help shape how Americans engage health care. According to a Reuters report published last week, Apple is in talks with health providers including Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins around its HealthKit service.
Apple's HealthKit will be used as a health data aggregator — including blood pressure, blood sugar, pulse and weight — that healthcare professionals and caregivers can use to help track a patient's health. In so doing, Apple will become one of the conduits to optimized, patient-empowered healthcare where outcomes based management isn't just a goal, it's a comprehensive, turnkey solution.
Of course, Apple isn't alone. Just about every other major player in telecommunications is staking out a claim on what tomorrow's telehealth will look like, including Verizon's Virtual Visits and Google's Helpouts. Comcast, Time Warner and Cox also are exploring telehealth as a potential lucrative revenue stream. And with good reason, telehealth services are expected to generate $4.5 billion by 2018, according to research firm IHS, with an approximate 7 million patients plugged in, up from less than 350,000 in 2013.
Imagine the possibilities. Devices already exist that can successfully capture health data and wirelessly upload that data to the cloud. With the appropriate patient permissions in place, the next step will be to mine that data for exception reports and place those reports into the hands of retail pharmacists, who in turn can do what pharmacists do best — council patients on their medication protocol and disease state management.
It's a proactive health model that can identify at-risk patients and intercept those patients in an effort to improve outcomes. And it's a model that fully places America's most approachable healthcare professional — the pharmacist — right smack in the middle of some positive disruptive innovation of their own.