While perusing some recent articles about future healthcare paradigms and how mobile/wearable technology will be central to this shift, I came across the usual descriptions about Apple and IBM changing the paradigm. It’s hard to knock Apple’s marketing machine- it’s woven its’ way into our everyday lives. Whether it’s something blatant like advertising, a blog by a ‘tech expert’, an opinion piece by a ‘financial analyst’, to blatant consumer misrepresentations allowed to propagate, it’s hard to go an entire day without being exposed to some type of iMedia hype.
Last week Stereotactic wrote a piece entitled Apple IBM Healthcare Collaboration: Unholy Alliance where he draws into question the security, anonymity, and marketing motives with respect to an individual’s healthcare data collected by the Apple/IBM collaboration. Apple has a difficult keeping customers’ pictures private- imagine the difficulties introduced with a log-scale increase due to collection of personal health data!
A simple internet search of ‘Apple Watch’ & ‘healthcare’ will provide you with a plethora of articles where authors prattle on about the benefits of having a medication reminder program built into a watch. After that they start to pontificate about all the wonderful things the watch could do for diabetics by monitoring their blood glucose, monitoring what they eat and drink and their portions. It could help by communicating information to your doctor like telling them you’ve just skinned your knee due to tripping over a curb while texting. The downside to this uber-connection is the intrusiveness it may introduce.
Does your doctor really need to be alerted/interrupted that you tripped on a curb and scrapped your knee? How will it be received in a meeting when you glance at your wrist every 20 seconds to view emails, texts, calls, FaceBook updates, new Twitter feeds, and medication reminders? What if your battery dies and you forget to take a medicine or miss an important health alert? On the ethical side does an insurance company have the right to offer someone a discount because they use a wearable to monitor their chronic illness?
It’s not that I’m anti-technology or against wearables, but Mitch Posada summed it up nicely in his blog– currently there is a dichotomy in wearables, one one side there is a consumer focus and on the other a health outcomes focus. The problem appears that people are confusing and blurring the two. Apple exists on the consumer focus side. In order to cross over to the health outcomes arena they may fall under the purview of country level health authorities who oversee the licensing of medical devices. Even under the close scrutiny of health authorities data can be hacked or misused.
BlackBerry is uniquely positioned to mitigate most of the risk involved in the changing healthcare landscape. Will there speed bumps and difficulties getting there, most definitely. But luckily they have laid out a good foundation to work from, starting with the QNX kernel at the heart of the IoT, to the security baked into their DNA. NantHealth and CellTrak helped to set the pace followed by the recent WatchDox acquisition. Does BlackBerry need a myriad of healthcare apps to be successful here, most definitely not. This may be an opportunity for John Chen to create another of his infamous partnerships, ensuring BlackBerry a seat at the table in one of the most lucrative areas of the next 10 – 15 years.