On the surface, Apple’s September 12 special event offered shinier toys. Apple announced three new iPhones – with more power, more features, and a greater variety of styles. And Apple debuted a newer generation Apple Watch with more features, too. To some observers, rolling out more products seemed like, well, more of the same. There were no big breakthroughs or radical reinventions of any of its products, which might explain reactions such as CNN, which reported, “Apple announces 3 new iPhones, a new watch, and not much else.”
But if you look at the details, you see a company strengthening its hold on the future of healthcare. As we noted in May, Apple is shaping the future of healthcare by creating a data platform for wellness care, which encompasses the Apple Watch and software that physicians use to develop services such as heart monitoring. For Apple to succeed, the company needs:
- A network of physicians and hospitals to cooperate by incorporating the Apple Watch as a healthcare monitoring device and by sharing patient data.
- Everyday people to get accustomed to using the Apple Watch to manage their health and report data to physicians.
Here is where the September 12 special event comes into play. The Apple Watch Series 4 has improved its health monitoring and reporting capabilities. The Apple Watch now senses when you fall by calculating wrist trajectory – and then sends data to an emergency contact. Also, as Apple discussed in an announcement, the Apple Watch Series 4 features “an electrical heart rate sensor that can take an electrocardiogram (ECG) using the new ECG app.” Features include:
- Users can take an ECG reading right from the wrist using the new ECG app. With the app, users receive a heart rhythm classification by tapping a crown on the device.
- The Apple Watch can classify if the heart is beating in a normal pattern or whether there are signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). All recordings, their associated classifications, and any noted symptoms are stored in the Health app in a PDF that can be shared with physicians.
It’s noteworthy that the above features include not only monitoring but reporting data to emergency contacts and physicians. Apple is a popular brand among physicians, and Apple is getting the cooperation of prestigious medical centers such as Cleveland Clinic to participate in Apple’s wellness programs.
Healthcare represents an important area of growth for Apple as it expands its services, which are taking an increasingly more important role in Apple’s revenue growth. Services encompass categories such as App Store, Apple Care, Apple Pay, iTunes, and cloud services. Services is where Apple has been steadily reinventing itself as a healthcare brand by providing wellness management tracking capabilities embedded in the Apple Watch.
So although the September 12 special event looked like a hardware showcase, the real story is how hardware is supporting services – for the healthcare vertical in particular and now with a device which has been granted a De Novo classification by the FDA.