The Apple Watch Letdown: Healthcare’s Grand Disappointment  

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Apple Watch magnified on iPad screen

The advance billing for the Apple watch was typically Apple-superlative. Fueled by the enthusiasm of legions of brand evangelists, the initial buzz anticipated something “revolutionary,” “life-changing” and/or “breakthrough” for health and healthcare.

Well… It turns out that the “innovative” health-and-fitness Apple Watch is more “fitness” than “health.” Version 1.0 is an admittedly stylish gadget that has closer ties to the gym than the hospital or doctor’s office. At least in this rollout product line, Apple has not included some of the anticipated bells-and-whistles for health care.

“Apple is prepared to make a big splash with the Apple Watch, even though the device won’t live up to CEO Tim Cook’s initial vision,” reports InformationWeek. “Apple executives had hoped the Apple Watch would be a futuristic health tracker, capable of checking blood pressure, stress levels, and heart activity… [but] Apple couldn’t get these features to function properly.

“People familiar with Apple’s plans said these advanced features were unreliable, too complex, and might have even heralded government regulation. In response, Apple dropped them.”

The lofty expectations for medical providers and marketing professionals envisioned stronger digital and data connections between patient and provider. “The disappointment is more acute because of the promise the Apple watch once held,” Huffington Post observes. “As healthcare crises boil—accelerated by the aging of the global population—Apple seemed ready to put its skin in the game. They claimed they had a ‘moral obligation’ to do more with sensors.”

“From Health Care Killer App To Gold Plated Bauble…”

“The buzz was about how the Apple Watch could revolutionize healthcare, not merely shake up high fashion timepieces,” business advisor Chunka Mui writes in his article for Forbes. “Apple went on a hiring spree of numerous digital health sensor experts. This expertise, coupled with Apple’s resources and design magic, fueled hope that Apple might overcome the technical, regulatory and usability challenges to sensing and helping consumers act on vital data like blood pressure, glucose, oxygenation and stress levels.”

Waiting and watching…

The branding, marketing and design genius of Apple is predicted to inspire millions of sales of the first version of Apple Watch. Emphasis on “first version.” Many observers—those not in need of clever-but-yet-another-digital-watch—are hoping for a more fulfilling payoff from the company’s investment in health and wellness via the “next generation.”

The recent iPhone update, you may have noticed, includes a new Apple Watch app. And it’s located on your small screen near the Health app introduced last year. What’s more, the Healthkit developer tools are still likely to change your future healthcare marketing plan. Although more challenging than expected, Apple isn’t likely to abandon its vision. The much-anticipated payoff for healthcare from Apple Watch and other wearables will follow in the next, updated offering.

“While killing health care features makes Apple Watch more of a ‘nice-to-have’ device than a ‘must-have’ for patients, some have applauded Apple for playing it safe,” writes Dan Diamond in Forbes, “[with] Apple’s decision to hold off on debuting its medical-device features until those features can meet Apple’s high quality bar.”

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

[Photo: 2nix Studio/Shutterstock.com]

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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