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Apple Veteran Explains why Silicon Valley's 'Fast Fail' approach won't work with Health Tech

1 x3 robin diane former apple specialist in health


Former Apple Veteran Robin Diane Goldstein has held many positions at Apple over a 22 year period including NewtonOS Product Marketing Manager, Principle Products Counsel through to Health Special Projects, more specifically, liaison for Health Special Projects team including support for the Apple Heart Study with Stanford Medicine.


Goldstein says that the Cube didn't kill Apple. The Fire Phone didn't kill Amazon. The Nexus Player didn't kill Google. What you didn't do was abandon the field completely. If you were lucky enough to have spent your hard earned money on a Betamax, when that platform failed you didn't swear off all forms of recorded entertainment.


This is the mindset Silicon Valley has brought to every space it enters: A bad product or poor user experience doesn't have any ramifications beyond that particular product or experience, and they can always wipe the slate clean and start again.


Though in certain fields like the world of digital health this is a huge problem. Here are three reasons why:


Unlike other consumer products, digital health products connect users to their own mortality. Although we refer to them as "health" products, the current crop is primarily focused on diagnosing, screening and managing illness and disease. Unless you have a specific need, most people would rather "get busy living" than "get busy dying." In other words, the ultimate stakes for current digital health products are, by design, life and death. This differentiates them from all other products these companies design and sell.


Digital health products require buy-in from both the user and their health care provider. Simply using a health-related device or app is not enough. A user must close the loop with a clinician before any meaningful action can take place. So if a patient uses a digital health product but their health care provider won't accept and incorporate the results into their treatment, it's a fail. And if a primary care doc recommends a device, but the consumer doesn't use it as "prescribed" (for any of a number of reasons) it's also a fail.


The old adage, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression" is especially true in healthcare. This is because when adopting new technologies, the marketplace performs a kind of calculus that evaluates perceived benefit, perceived risk, cost, maturity and history. Or for the poets, how much good will let us put up with the possibility of bad; how bad is bad enough before it outweighs the possible good; what's the track record of those making claims about the possibilities of good and bad so we don't get fooled (again); and what does it all cost? With health, a bad outcome can be truly disastrous.


As a result of each of these elements, early mistakes can have a lasting impact that reverberate beyond the offending company to impact an entire industry, affecting both the regulatory landscape and broad public perception. For more on this, read the full CNBC report here.


Last April Patently Apple posted a report titled "Secret Apple Team Closing in on Diabetes Testing Breakthrough using an Apple Watch," and late last month we covered one of the patents behind that project. Apple has also filed for a patent relating to blood presure testing.


2a apple blood pressure patent figure

While Apple is taking their time delivering new health care products to market, it should be noted that last year the FDA selected Apple and 9 other tech companies for a pilot program design to fast hearth care innovations.


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