Apple and Google are driving data liquidity (and that’s a good thing)
With Apple's developer conference behind us and Google's just around the corner, these are exciting times for young mobile health companies like Axial. The reason for our optimism is threefold: accelerated consumer adoption, enhanced enterprise credibility, and increased data liquidity for everyone.
Apple and Google Provide Chasm-Crossing Service
While manual self-tracking of health data has been widespread for decades, the use of smart devices to capture biometric data has been a recent phenomenon embraced mainly by early adopters. That is about to change. Google and Apple will launch digital self-tracking into the mainstream. Palm Treos and Blackberries were once niche tools associated with techies and bankers until the 2007 iPhone launch changed everything. While not as big as the iPhone launch (what is?), we are on the cusp of an interesting shift in consumer adoption of digital health tracking.
Healthcare is a conservative industry. That conservatism is good when the adoption of new technology introduces unnecessary risks into the system. It is not so good when the conservatism is a categorical "wait and see" approach to all new technology. Some industry observers speculate that a big reason for the market-dominating success of Epic Systems can be found in the old saw "you never get fired for buying IBM." That is, in a risk-averse industry, you can always cover your backside by buying the most established option on the market. While there are plenty of early adopters in the consumer side of healthcare, they are few-and-far-between among technology buyers within large healthcare institutions. That is not to say that they don't exist. (See AtlanticHealth in New Jersey and Scripps in California for examples of very innovative large health systems.) What does this have to do with Google and Apple? Simply put, Apple's partnership with Epic legitimized patient self-tracking via mobile. A window of opportunity has been flung open for companies like Axial.
Open APIs from Apple and Google mean more freely flowing health data. To Axial, this means rich new data sources. For a compelling macro analysis of the larger trend of technology's transformation of healthcare, Mary Meeker’s 2014 Tech Report pulls all this information together, and basically makes the case that health care is at a tipping point in the use of IT:
See the Mary Meeker's full presentation here.
These moves by Apple and Google will likely provide an updraft to Axial's business. More importantly, however, they represent an inflection point for the healthcare industry. Technology is steadily bringing empowering information and tools directly to consumers. The result should be a more educated and engaged population. That is certainly reason for optimism.