Apple hires head of Stanford's digital health initiative

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple is moving forward with efforts to build out its health products team with the recent hire of a top Stanford doctor who headed up the university's own digital health initiative.




Dr. Sumbul Desai, a key figure in January's launch of the Stanford Center for Digital Health, will leave the center for an unknown role at Apple, Stanford confirmed to Internet Health Management on Friday.

Desai started at Stanford as a resident physician of internal medicine in 2008, and later held roles as
Medical Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Chief of Strategy. Along with her role as Chief of the Stanford Center for Digital Health, she is also listed as serving as Vice Chair of Strategy and Innovation at Stanford's Department of Medicine, as well as Associate Chief Medical Officer of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Stanford Healthcare.

Whether Desai plans to abandon all involvement at Stanford as part of her move to Apple remains unclear.

Launched in January, the Center for Digital Health is a Stanford University School of Medicine project to build next generation health solutions in collaboration with technology industry leaders. According to its website, the program seeks to advocate "precision health" through three pillars: enabling the community, promoting industry collaboration and developing strategic health projects.

As part of its portfolio of accomplishments, the Center for Digital Health names a number of seed research grants, including an Apple Watch grant that saw Stanford faculty and instructors present new and innovative health-related uses for the wearable.

The center is also responsible for the MyHeart Counts app, an iOS title that seeks to better understand heart disease and stroke. The app was built on Apple's ResearchKit platform in collaboration with University of Oxford.

Apple has been on a health industry hiring spree over the past few months. Last November, the company hired former Duke University researcher Dr. Ricky Bloomfield, an early proponent of HealthKit and ResearchKit platforms. And in June of last year Apple hired Dr. Rajiv Kumar, whose diabetes ResearchKit study made headlines in 2014, away from Stanford Children's Hospital.

While Apple remains mum on its secret health initiatives, reports claim the company is working to deliver advanced medical monitoring tools through its Apple Watch wearable. Already one of the most accurate consumer heart rate monitors on the market, Apple Watch could one day boast cutting edge biomedical hardware.

For example, Apple is said to be developing a noninvasive glucose monitoring solution, widely considered a "holy grail" of modern medical science.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    This kind of thing perfectly illustrates the position Apple should be taking going forward. Apple can respond to the growing demand for easy access to low-level medical monitoring and needs, versus people expecting government to force others to pay for their monitoring, care, etc.

    If Apple ever established a hospital, it would be the best facility on the Earth.
    brian green
  • Reply 2 of 23
    stanthemanstantheman Posts: 319member
    Apple is developing a critical mass in health and medical talent, providing resources to them and pointing them at critical issues which personal-mobile technology might be able to address. That's the road to success, though we will have to wait for results before celebrating. What a great company.

    Here is an interview with the doctor: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/865149#vp_1
    edited June 2017 buckalecrepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 23
    This kind of thing perfectly illustrates the position Apple should be taking going forward. Apple can respond to the growing demand for easy access to low-level medical monitoring and needs, versus people expecting government to force others to pay for their monitoring, care, etc.

    If Apple ever established a hospital, it would be the best facility on the Earth.
    And the most expensive to be treated at unless Apple can get some government subsidies. I certainly hope Apple can be successful in the health-care industry. There are probably a lot of people counting on Apple creating a non-invasive glucose device. It would be amazing if Apple can do it after all the years other companies have tried and failed. It's probably not a problem Apple can just throw money at to solve.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,040member
    Apple is going to be a huge player in health -- a $3 trillion industry in the US -- and hires like these reflect a slow and steady process of talent accumulation.

    It's not the "throw something at the wall and see what sticks" approach of Google, nor the "we'll copy what they did and make it cheaper" approach of Samsung. It doesn't generate a lot of clicks, nor analyst hype. It's not sexy. It's not about shouting from the rooftops. 

    Can't wait to see where this all leads. 
    mwhitebrian greenslprescottrepressthisSpamSandwichStrangeDaysbadmonk
  • Reply 5 of 23
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life..

    The barrier of entry to anyone else will be massive too, the best place for Apple to go really.
    GeorgeBMactmay
  • Reply 6 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    Apple is going to be a huge player in health -- a $3 trillion industry in the US -- and hires like these reflect a slow and steady process of talent accumulation.

    It's not the "throw something at the wall and see what sticks" approach of Google, nor the "we'll copy what they did and make it cheaper" approach of Samsung. It doesn't generate a lot of clicks, nor analyst hype. It's not sexy. It's not about shouting from the rooftops. 

    Can't wait to see where this all leads. 
    Paging Gatorguy. Paging Gatorguy…
    badmonk
  • Reply 7 of 23
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,127member
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life..

    The barrier of entry to anyone else will be massive too, the best place for Apple to go really.
    The #1 danger for Apple is to rely on the healthcare industry:
    Physicians are trained and directed by their employers to focus on disease treatment and have little or no knowledge or interest in actual healthcare!  (Ours is a "disease treatment" industry that simply doesn't understand how to promote health - it thinks health is the absence of disease symptoms.)

    Take the "My Heart Count" app mentioned in this article:  It measures just a few minor parameters associated with health -- but ignores a vast number of other important factors.   Plus, it is unable to record actual results:  "Did the plan work?".   Instead, it simply collects a bunch of performance data but returns nothing.  It is a black hole and contributes little or nothing to health.

    Apple has the resources to do better.   A LOT better.  And yes, while it needs to include the healthcare industry professionals, it should not allow them to control the discussion, the flow and the direction if it wants to succeed.   They tout themselves as THE experts.   But, look where they have led us:  an epidemic of chronic diseases and obesity that is sucking the country dry trying to pay for their "treatment".

    In short:  Apple can excel at "Lifestyle Medicine" and supplementing it with traditional medical measures such as lab tests...   But, if it permits the traditional medical model (which has no understanding or appreciation of LifeStyle Medicine) to drive the boat it will fail the same way our traditional medical model has failed...
    anantksundaramNotsofast
  • Reply 8 of 23
    farmboyfarmboy Posts: 152member
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life.. 
    You're right, of course. But with 330 million people I don't think any system would be great. 
  • Reply 9 of 23
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 349member
    This kind of thing perfectly illustrates the position Apple should be taking going forward. Apple can respond to the growing demand for easy access to low-level medical monitoring and needs, versus people expecting government to force others to pay for their monitoring, care, etc.

    If Apple ever established a hospital, it would be the best facility on the Earth.
    And the most expensive to be treated at unless Apple can get some government subsidies. I certainly hope Apple can be successful in the health-care industry. There are probably a lot of people counting on Apple creating a non-invasive glucose device. It would be amazing if Apple can do it after all the years other companies have tried and failed. It's probably not a problem Apple can just throw money at to solve.
    Fortunately, Apple has never been the type of company that just "throws money" at problems. Instead, they establish a strategic vision, and then assemble the talent, and most importantly, have the patience, to work through the problem until they reach a good solution.  This is why you don't see them announcing vapor ware, or rushing out poor products just to be first in the market.  
    edited June 2017 StrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    farmboy said:
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life.. 
    You're right, of course. But with 330 million people I don't think any system would be great. 
    If healthcare was deregulated and there was no further intrusion of government into this market and Walmart, Apple, Google and Amazon decided to enter healthcare in a big way, you can bet your life that costs would decrease, quality would improve and options would abound.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 11 of 23
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    farmboy said:
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life.. 
    You're right, of course. But with 330 million people I don't think any system would be great. 
    The current system is built on a hodge podge of little corporate and institutional fiefdoms in which the individual has no power.

    If there was a way for people to reclaim a measure of control and unify and simply the experience of taking care of one's health in a more efficient manner it would be a win.

    Breaking down those entrenched areas will come with time as other companies like Amazon, MS, Apple, Facebook, Google and others all competition in that space.

    Like in everything, many people will not be with Apple and take one of the lesser (by still better than current situation) solutions and Apple will be the gold standard.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,153member
    This kind of thing perfectly illustrates the position Apple should be taking going forward. 
    This kind of thing perfectly illustrates the position Apple is taking going forward.


    Apple is going to be a huge player in health -- a $3 trillion industry in the US -- and hires like these reflect a slow and steady process of talent accumulation.

    It's not the "throw something at the wall and see what sticks" approach of Google, nor the "we'll copy what they did and make it cheaper" approach of Samsung. It doesn't generate a lot of clicks, nor analyst hype. It's not sexy. It's not about shouting from the rooftops. 

    Can't wait to see where this all leads. 
    Agree 100%.


    Notsofast said:
    Fortunately, Apple has never been the type of company that just "throws money" at problems. Instead, they establish a strategic vision, and then assemble the talent, and most importantly, have the patience, to work through the problem until they reach a good solution.  This is why you don't see them announcing vapor ware, or rushing out poor products just to be first in the market.  
    Again agree 100%


    SpamSandwich said:
    If healthcare was deregulated and there was no further intrusion of government into this market and Walmart, Apple, Google and Amazon decided to enter healthcare in a big way, you can bet your life that costs would decrease, quality would improve and options would abound.
    Disagree about 99% because deregulation did so well for competition and lowering costs and increasing options in the cable industry and epi pens.

    That's something I would not bet my life on. I welcome Govt 'intrusion' especially when it comes to oversight of much of private enterprise. One man's 'intrusion' is another man's oversight. 

    Walmart in medicine? Ok, medicine manufacture outsourced to China, land of melamine in dog food, would be hyperbole, but when it comes to medical care, free reign (and rein) for private enterprise is unacceptable.
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 23
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,988member
    So here we have yet another "digital" buzzword to gather around since, I guess, "analog" health wasn't working out quite so well - so now we're looking to the ones and zeros to save the day again. Putting the buzzwords aside, I'm totally unclear as to where Apple as a product and services company with huge brand equity is headed with this. I'm sure the smell of money floating around the immense healthcare pool in an aging, overweight, and stressed-out population is very attractive. But Apple is bringing in a highly credentialed medical industry strategist from a renowned university, so they must have something really big in mind for such a big brain to work on ... an idea that eventually results in a product that has the bitten Apple logo gracing it.

    One could argue that Apple (or Google, Amazon, Tesla, etc.) isn't restricted to advancing only along the logical lines of their traditional core business competencies, so why not look to Apple (or any other well run business entity) to save the current fetid health care industry problems? I contend that's wishful thinking in a society whose collective brain is hardwired for looking to capitalism to solve all of societies problems, whether they're technical, economic, or social in nature. Throw a bunch of smart business people at a problem, any problem, and provide the proper financial incentives for maximizing the business entity's ability to turn a healthy profit and they will indeed come up with a solution to the problem, whatever the problem may be.

    Unfortunately, some things don't bend to the capitalist's will, like dealing with humans who randomly get sick and need the proper care and a lot of money that they don't have to get better, or at least hang-on comfortably for a little while longer. Sure, smart business people can improve processes and make them more efficient and cost effective. But at some point healthcare has to be about caring about people over profits and that's where business people stumble and capitalism turns punitive on its citizenry. I'm not convinced that even a company like Apple, with its amazing focus on products and services, is going to be able to realign its focus on caring for people with the same level of commitment and determination that it puts into running its businesses for profit, unless of course someone else is footing the bill and compensating them for the eventual losses that they will suffer dealing with the net unprofitability of human disease and illness. 
    GeorgeBMacSpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 23
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    dewme said:
    So here we have yet another "digital" buzzword to gather around since, I guess, "analog" health wasn't working out quite so well - so now we're looking to the ones and zeros to save the day again. Putting the buzzwords aside, I'm totally unclear as to where Apple as a product and services company with huge brand equity is headed with this. I'm sure the smell of money floating around the immense healthcare pool in an aging, overweight, and stressed-out population is very attractive. But Apple is bringing in a highly credentialed medical industry strategist from a renowned university, so they must have something really big in mind for such a big brain to work on ... an idea that eventually results in a product that has the bitten Apple logo gracing it.

    One could argue that Apple (or Google, Amazon, Tesla, etc.) isn't restricted to advancing only along the logical lines of their traditional core business competencies, so why not look to Apple (or any other well run business entity) to save the current fetid health care industry problems? I contend that's wishful thinking in a society whose collective brain is hardwired for looking to capitalism to solve all of societies problems, whether they're technical, economic, or social in nature. Throw a bunch of smart business people at a problem, any problem, and provide the proper financial incentives for maximizing the business entity's ability to turn a healthy profit and they will indeed come up with a solution to the problem, whatever the problem may be.

    Unfortunately, some things don't bend to the capitalist's will, like dealing with humans who randomly get sick and need the proper care and a lot of money that they don't have to get better, or at least hang-on comfortably for a little while longer. Sure, smart business people can improve processes and make them more efficient and cost effective. But at some point healthcare has to be about caring about people over profits and that's where business people stumble and capitalism turns punitive on its citizenry. I'm not convinced that even a company like Apple, with its amazing focus on products and services, is going to be able to realign its focus on caring for people with the same level of commitment and determination that it puts into running its businesses for profit, unless of course someone else is footing the bill and compensating them for the eventual losses that they will suffer dealing with the net unprofitability of human disease and illness. 
    They don't really need to be caring for people, just enable people to control more of their own care; shift the balance of power.
    That's how I see it.
    Apple is not going to go open a hospital after all.

    StrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 23
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,127member
    farmboy said:
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life.. 
    You're right, of course. But with 330 million people I don't think any system would be great. 
    If healthcare was deregulated and there was no further intrusion of government into this market and Walmart, Apple, Google and Amazon decided to enter healthcare in a big way, you can bet your life that costs would decrease, quality would improve and options would abound.
    Ideology is so cool -- until it does a face plant into reality...
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 23
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,127member
    foggyhill said:
    farmboy said:
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life.. 
    You're right, of course. But with 330 million people I don't think any system would be great. 
    The current system is built on a hodge podge of little corporate and institutional fiefdoms in which the individual has no power.

    If there was a way for people to reclaim a measure of control and unify and simply the experience of taking care of one's health in a more efficient manner it would be a win.

    Breaking down those entrenched areas will come with time as other companies like Amazon, MS, Apple, Facebook, Google and others all competition in that space.

    Like in everything, many people will not be with Apple and take one of the lesser (by still better than current situation) solutions and Apple will be the gold standard.
    Sorry, but our so called healthcare system is about pills and procedures that are tightly controlled by a few.  Technology can help them be better at it, but it won't make any substantial improvements.

    But, where Apple and other tech companies can contribute in a meaningful way is to help people improve their health to point where they don't need the pills and procedures.... 
  • Reply 17 of 23
    farmboy said:
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life.. 
    You're right, of course. But with 330 million people I don't think any system would be great. 
    If healthcare was deregulated and there was no further intrusion of government into this market and Walmart, Apple, Google and Amazon decided to enter healthcare in a big way, you can bet your life that costs would decrease, quality would improve and options would abound.
    The US has one of the least regulated healthcare industries in the world already. As it is, the US spends about 4x per patient , compared to most other western countries , but has a lower life expectancy, higher death rate in hospital, higher infant mortality rate etc etc

    No other first world country seeks to emulate the US healthcare system.

    eg my wife went through a high risk pregnancy - was treated by one of the absolute top OBGYN in the world , was in hospital for a c-section, and needed a week to recover due to some of the complications of the pregnancy . Out of pocket cost to us = $0. In addition, the ante-natal care & months of follow ups were with great staff and were all free. Even a routine 2-3 day birth & recovery  in a US hospital can push $5k after insurance.

    The US healthcare system over services, under delivers and is basically a money machine for big pharma and for-profit healthcare providers.
    GeorgeBMacSpamSandwich
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Apple is going to be a huge player in health -- a $3 trillion industry in the US -- and hires like these reflect a slow and steady process of talent accumulation.

    It's not the "throw something at the wall and see what sticks" approach of Google, nor the "we'll copy what they did and make it cheaper" approach of Samsung. It doesn't generate a lot of clicks, nor analyst hype. It's not sexy. It's not about shouting from the rooftops. 

    Can't wait to see where this all leads. 
    Except that Google is already in healthcare with products and services on the backend and has been for years. You folks really need to understand: Google and Apple are two totally different companies. Apple is primarily a consumer products company. Their several attempts to go beyond that to become a bona fide enterprise hardware, software and services company haven't gone well and have been for the time being abandoned (again). Google is primarily a cloud/Internet software and services company. While they do make consumer products that people buy and use - smartphones, Chromebooks, Google Home, smart watches, Android TV - those things are of secondary importance to them. Most of the things that Google does never results in an end product that people will buy and use, or if it does it will be something free like Youtube and the Chrome browser.

    So when you compare what Apple exclusively does - provide consumer products - to what is at best a secondary concern and not a primary revenue driver for Google, of course Apple is going to be ahead and be better: they have to be. Because if you remove the iPhone, iPad and Mac from Apple, they are out of business tomorrow. Google, on the other hand, remove their consumer products - Android phones and tablets, Android TV, Google Home, Chromebooks, Chromecast - and they still have 95% of their revenue. That's why this "throw something at the wall and see what sticks" approach is the talk of people who really desperately want to pretend that Google and Apple are similar companies that are competing with the same business model. They. Are. Not. The only areas where Google and Apple compete are areas where Apple gets nearly all of their revenue on one hand and Google uses to collect data to build their actual back end products on the other. The funny thing: when Google DID enter into Apple's turf somewhat - with Android - they created the #1 operating system in the world and in the process outstripped 35 years of Microsoft DOS/Windows in like 7 years. Google did that because they had to in order to keep Microsoft from running them out of business. Which shows that when Google is motivated to deliver a consumer product, they are pretty good. Google Chrome is the same. When Microsoft began funneling people away from Google and towards Bing, they came out with Chrome. Initially, it was dead last behind IE, Firefox and Safari. Now it has 60% market share with no one else above 17%, with once monopolistic Microsoft now resorting to such pathetic tactics as running anti-Chrome warning messages on their OS, and creating a new version of their OS specifically designed to lock Chrome out. And when Amazon came out with a direct threat to their business model with Alexa, Google responded not just with Google Home a few months later, but rolling Google Assistant - the software on Google Home - to every Android phone, tablet, Chromebook and Android TV device running 6.0 and higher, giving Assistant a user base that dwarfs the 20 million (if that) of Alexa.

    Bottom line: Google's business model and culture rewards the dilettante approach of experimenting and dabbling. Apple's does not, because for Apple to roll out a new product or initiative that fails would cost the company tens of billions of dollars of capital and years of work. But evidence that Google's approach isn't wrong: Microsoft is working to shift from their old model under Gates and Ballmer - one that was more like Apple and primarily focused on end user products for consumers and enterprises - to the way that Google does things under Nadella. Microsoft has gone from being 100 times as big and powerful as Google to a "me too/if you can't beat 'em join 'em" approach in less than 10 years.

    As far as Samsung goes, well the iPhone 6s and 7 more closely resemble the Samsung Galaxy than they do the iPhone 5. The "10 year anniversary iPhone" will be a full on copy of everything that Samsung has been doing with the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note line for the past 3-4 years (if not more) including curved OLED screens, no bezels, wireless charging, waterproofing, increased RAM and more processor cores for multi-tasking, stylus support etc. with many of the components provided by Samsung themselves. Samsung - and Android in general - stopped copying Apple years ago because Apple hasn't introduced any new compelling features that Samsung and Google want or need. (Where is the Android version of Force Touch, for example?) Apple can't say the same.

  • Reply 19 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,069member
    Apple is going to be a huge player in health -- a $3 trillion industry in the US -- and hires like these reflect a slow and steady process of talent accumulation.

    It's not the "throw something at the wall and see what sticks" approach of Google, nor the "we'll copy what they did and make it cheaper" approach of Samsung. It doesn't generate a lot of clicks, nor analyst hype. It's not sexy. It's not about shouting from the rooftops. 

    Can't wait to see where this all leads. 
    Except that Google is already in healthcare with products and services on the backend and has been for years. You folks really need to understand: Google and Apple are two totally different companies. Apple is primarily a consumer products company. Their several attempts to go beyond that to become a bona fide enterprise hardware, software and services company haven't gone well and have been for the time being abandoned (again). Google is primarily a cloud/Internet software and services company.

    No, Google is primarily an advertising company. The software and services it provides are to enable the advertising revenue. End users are not their customers, companies buying advertising are. 

    As as to your claim that Android is the #1 OS in the world, that’s a matter of preferred metrics used as the yard stick. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 20 of 23
    foggyhill said:
    Health care is such a massive inefficient and disagreable mess in the US that anyone that can improve the experience in any metrics, will reap a lot of profit while making a big difference in people's life..

    The barrier of entry to anyone else will be massive too, the best place for Apple to go really.
    The #1 danger for Apple is to rely on the healthcare industry:
    Physicians are trained and directed by their employers to focus on disease treatment and have little or no knowledge or interest in actual healthcare!  (Ours is a "disease treatment" industry that simply doesn't understand how to promote health - it thinks health is the absence of disease symptoms.)

    Take the "My Heart Count" app mentioned in this article:  It measures just a few minor parameters associated with health -- but ignores a vast number of other important factors.   Plus, it is unable to record actual results:  "Did the plan work?".   Instead, it simply collects a bunch of performance data but returns nothing.  It is a black hole and contributes little or nothing to health.

    Apple has the resources to do better.   A LOT better.  And yes, while it needs to include the healthcare industry professionals, it should not allow them to control the discussion, the flow and the direction if it wants to succeed.   They tout themselves as THE experts.   But, look where they have led us:  an epidemic of chronic diseases and obesity that is sucking the country dry trying to pay for their "treatment".

    In short:  Apple can excel at "Lifestyle Medicine" and supplementing it with traditional medical measures such as lab tests...   But, if it permits the traditional medical model (which has no understanding or appreciation of LifeStyle Medicine) to drive the boat it will fail the same way our traditional medical model has failed...

    Respectfully, your understanding of what leaders in medical practice and especially medical education believe and teach is years, if not decades, out of date.  Everyone sees the importance of "wellness" over "disease treatment."  Go to any medical conference and check the agenda. This is mainstream healthcare industry thinking now.
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