Apple has reportedly considered launching its own primary healthcare service

It planned to offer health monitoring as part of a subscription program.

Mike Segar / reuters

Apple has reportedly considered a plan to launch its own subscription-based healthcare service, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The idea was conceived in 2016 but has reportedly stalled as Apple focused its healthcare efforts on the Watch, Apple Health and other products and services instead.

The idea was first conceived when Apple was trying to figure out how the reams of data collected from Watch users might be used to improve healthcare. A decision was made to provide a medical service of its own "linking data generated by Apple devices with virtual and in-person care provided by Apple doctors," according to the WSJ. Apple would not only offer primary care but subscription-based personalized health programs.

Apple reportedly took over a health clinic near Apple Park and hired Stanford University's Dr. Sumbul Desai to manage the project. It tested the service to start with on its own employees, building a team that included clinicians, engineers and product designers.

One of the initiatives was supposedly an app called HealthHabit that connected employees with clinicians via chat and encouraged them to set health goals. However, the app reportedly struggled with low enrollment and questions over data integrity in the area of hypertension. In a 2019 meeting, a manager raised concerns about the data to Desai, which contributed to the manager's departure several weeks later, according to the report.

However, an Apple spokesperson said that Dr. Desai spoke to importance of data integrity at the same meeting. "This matter was investigated thoroughly and the allegations could not be substantiated," the spokesperson told the WSJ. "Many of the assertions in this report are based on incomplete, outdated and inaccurate information." The spokesperson added that Apple is proud of Desai's work and that she has been a key part of its healthcare endeavors.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that health will be one of Apple's greatest contributions to humanity. The primary healthcare service idea has slowed but reportedly still continues at the company.

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