Apple is struggling in its push to make healthcare its greatest legacy

Rolfe Winkler at the Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook has said the company’s greatest contribution to mankind will be in health. So far, some Apple initiatives aimed at broadly disrupting the healthcare sector have struggled to gain traction, according to people familiar with them and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Apple has envisioned an audacious plan for healthcare, offering its own primary-care medical service with Apple-employed doctors at its own clinics, according to people familiar with the plan and documents. To test that and other bold healthcare ideas, it took over clinics that catered to its employees and built a team with scores of clinicians, engineers, product designers and others.

Today those ambitions, which aren’t widely known, have largely stalled as Apple has shifted the focus of its health unit to something it knows well: Selling devices, specifically the Apple Watch, according to people familiar with its strategy….

Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, who oversees the health team, urged employees to think big. He said Apple should disrupt what he called the ‘363’ and ‘break fix’ model of care in the U.S., where patients may not see their doctors 363 days a year and only visit when something goes wrong, according to people familiar with his ideas.

The team decided one of the best ways to realize that vision was to provide a medical service of its own, said people familiar with the plan, linking data generated by Apple devices with virtual and in-person care provided by Apple doctors. Apple would offer primary care, but also continuous health monitoring as part of a subscription-based personalized health program, according to these people and the documents.”

Apple is at its best when it’s selling hardware, software, and services based on those two things. When technology is a lesser focus, Apple stumbles.

Also, mixing healthcare and employment is a terrible idea. Tying health insurance to employment is deeply wrong, and anything strengthening that bond is completely moving in the wrong direction.