Apple clinics for your health? It almost just happened

October 17, 2017 by Marco Della Cava, Usa Today

How about hitting your local Apple store for a quick health check-up? It's not as crazy as it sounds.

The iPhone-maker almost bought medical clinic startup Crossover Health in a move that would have potentially fast-tracked the idea of Apple-branded health kiosks popping up around the country, according to a CNBC report.

Talks have been ongoing throughout the year with Crossover Health, which provides medical wellness centers to self-insured employers, according to the report. The company has facilities in the Bay Area and New York, and its clients include Apple and Facebook.

Apple was also reported to be in similar acquisition talks with One Medical, another concierge medicine group that charges a membership fee and aggressively leverages technology to smooth the often onerous doctor's visit process.

Contacts with doctors for everything from appointments to medical advice are often conducted through an app.

Apple and Crossover Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With America's broken healthcare system dominating the headlines, little surprise one of the nation's biggest companies sees a business opportunity in fixing the problem with technology.

Apple, which recently unveiled its flagship iPhone X, has been talking about how its products—notably Apple Watch—can help monitor and track health through a growing array of sophisticated body sensors. CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly extolled HealthKit and ResearchKit, Apple software designed to share health findings.

Last spring, reports surfaced that Apple's health team was working on a non-invasive way to monitor blood sugar without piercing the skin, suggesting that perhaps a standalone Apple medical device could be in the works.

That said, vaulting from making hardware and software aimed at helping people keep track of their health to managing a network of health providers would be a big leap for the tech-focused company.

The closest parallel for such a jump would be moves made of late by Amazon, which started as an online bookseller, branched into general merchandise of all sorts and capped its growth with its recent purchase of Whole Foods Market, the upscale grocery chain.

Whether or not Apple eventually does make a tech-centric move into healthcare, there's little doubt that what technology can bring to health is significant, ranging from seamlessly sharing patient data with doctors to providing ways for consumers to take control of their vitals through their smartphones and other gadgets.

Considering the frequency of hackers penetrating databases of financial and other institutions, the biggest issues facing any player entering the med-tech space would likely swirl around the security of patient data.

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