It's really easy to think you need to invent something in order to create a massive opportunity. I see (saw?) one years ago... and am still amazed at how no one has jumped on it.
It's Apple Health. The App. It communicates with patient record systems (EHRs) using an API standard called FHIR. Something I've always found odd, is that Apple actually exposes the raw FHIR messages in their Health App (which makes for a good demo).
What's the opportunity?
It can be many things. From my perspective, as an API solution person, is the opportunity to add FHIR support to API gateways and tools. That could mean a lot of things.
It might mean making integration with EPIC and Cerner, and others, more easy to achieve "out-of-the-box".
It might mean, as we did at CA / Layer 7, improving security for integration with patient record systems, thereby making it easier to use FHIR to create innovative care solutions.
If the patient record systems are opening APIs to a standard, it makes sense to facilitate the innovation. The patient record systems vendors are opening up because (at least in the US) there are compliance laws forcing them to do so.
So there's a compelling event (or there was, the compliance rules are in place already). You have a global API standard (that's community driven, and as such, has a great developer community to engage). And, you have a product space (API Management – security, development tools, and analytics) that has been adding value to the API space for a long time.
Why this is a good opportunity?
Anytime I got excited about ApplePay when it first launched and shared, people were like "oh, Android has been doing this for a while." Or, "we've had contactless payments in Europe/Asia forever." Or, my favorite, "It's only a few banks, and only in the US." Or some other such nonsense.
Smartphones were around a long time before Apple. Yet the whole market changed as they persisted over time.
Same with ApplePay. I mean, there's no way I'd be paying for a subway ride with my phone if we left it to Google, even though Google has more open NFC and is cheaper, and whatever. And, while it will take a long time, the same technology is underpinning digital licenses in Apple Wallet.
Hate me if you will, but I'm right.
So, a few years after ApplePay comes Apple Health. Not only do we have my belief that Apple plays the long game and there's money to be made here. Or the CEO that says health will be Apple's biggest contribution to society. We have a roadmap from ApplePay on how they'll approach growing this solution globally.
The key thing here is that whatever value you can provide to the ecosystem, it's going to start small and grow a lot – because that's what Apple does. So draft on their success and focus, instead of trying to do everything for everyone.
Common objections that just don't make sense
What about people that use Android? A doctor/hospital can't only support iOS...
That's right. Non-Apple customers can use exactly what they use today! No one is worse if there's more of a solution on iOS. What this objection tells me is that you're willing to allow harm to come to Apple customers because you can't deliver a solution for something to Android also.
We're going to use responsive webapps, so we can run anywhere...
I had a hospital CTO once get quite animated with me when I suggested this sort of thing. He condescendingly explained that "the mobile ship has sailed; they've solved mobile by planning to convert all their webpages to be responsive."
It's not cool when customers treat you poorly, but it does come with the territory.
This is the same CTO "charicature" that wastes billions because they can't figure out how to efficiently schedule people's appointments, so they miss them. (This article is old, but it's from around the same time as the meeting I'm referring to.)
We use [insert EHR provider vendor name] and they tell us they'll support Apple Health [enter random timeframe]...
Being in NYC, I'm a patient at some very wealthy healthcare systems, all who now support Apple Health integration.
It all sucks.
I could go on... but as an example, I have a wireless blood pressure cuff in my drawer, yet there's no way for me to use that to help my doctor monitor my blood pressure (which is high, in part, because of these awful healthcare IT systems). Instead, if the doctor wants to monitor my blood pressure, I have to visit the office.
And, there's no way for the health insurance company's app to automatically update my health insurance information and so every time I go to the doctor's office there's pages and pages of information that needs to be entered (on a cheap samsung tablet usually, which invariably doesn't actually work). I realize this is a US-specific issue, but still, it's a pretty big market (and a huge waste of everyone's time).
There was one doctor I went to... There was a big sign as you entered "Use our online portal to enter your information"... and the first that the receptionist says to everyone that walks in "don't do that, it doesn't work, here's the paper." It's comical (and I always ask about it, so I get details).
This isn't about what the EHR system supports. It's about creating innovative applications that help patients, doctors, staff, and others focus on patient care, not on logistics or paperwork.
Three things to read:
If my ideas got you thinking, you here are three bits of additional information to learn more:
- Wait, when did everyone start using ApplePay? (WSJ; August 2022). I don't agree with everything in this article, but it's directionally right.
- Tim Cook still believes Apple's greatest contribution will be in health (9to5 Mac; August 2022). I mean, the CEO known for being understated is literally telling us this is big.
- An Apple Bank Account? (Alex Johnson Fintech Newsletter; July 2022)