- Apple is planning to open a group of health clinics for its employees this spring, CNBC reported.
- The preliminary rollout is scheduled to include two primary care clinics for employees at the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara County, California, according to the report. The company has around 80,000 full-time employees directly employed.
- The clinic group, called AC Wellness, says on a website it is seeking a primary care doctor, nurse coordinator and care navigator, and a job listing on a different site says the network will include “multiple state-of-the-art medical centers."
Apple is latest corporate giant to more openly and forcefully pursue healthcare interests. The company announced in January it is making personal health records accessible on the latest iPhones, a potential major step in easing the exchange of health data. It has also looked into ways its Apple Watch could have medical applications, like detecting irregular heartbeats in wearers.
Amazon is also stepping up efforts in the healthcare space. A month ago it announced a company with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway that will focus on improving healthcare quality and costs for their U.S. employees. It is also seeking a more direct involvement by expanding efforts to provide hospitals with medical supplies.
This means that at least two companies with a history of disruption and a wealth of resources are knocking on the door of traditional healthcare revenue and operations. It’s not an entirely unexpected development. The nearly $70 billion pending merger between CVS and Aetna and other vertical integrations announced recently are largely seen as an attempt to lower costs by streamlining services and controlling more access points to care.
The primary care clinics are a small beginning for Apple, and the company's eventual plans are not yet known. But the company is taking the same path as Amazon and the others by starting at a common pain point for employers — the healthcare costs of their employees. Onsite clinics are increasingly finding ground among employers seeking to radically change their benefits engagement, though their expense should be noted.
Skepticism that any of these efforts will get far off the ground or make tangible difference in the healthcare system is warranted. Many large companies and coalitions have tried before without much to show for it. The industry will be keeping an eye on Apple, though, with its enormous, devoted customer base and a number of potential avenues to pursue.