Apple CEO Tim Cook has been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) annual conference on clinical practice guidelines and quality cancer care. The topic of the discussion is Cancer and Corporate America: Business As Usual. At the moment it isn’t clear if Cook will attend (NCCN lists both speakers that have confirmed their attendance as well as those that have not).
The invitation raises some questions about why the organization chose to invite Cook. One obvious answer centers around the role that Cook played in managing Apple while Steve Jobs was fighting the pancreatic cancer that eventually led to his death last year. While that is certainly plausible, there could be other reasons behind NCCN’s invitation.
One of those could be the impact of the iPad and iPhone in the healthcare industry. iOS devices have found many uses in medicine over the past couple of years including increasing the response time of on-call physicians, ensuring medication compliance and patient monitoring, some use as a mobile electronic medical records system, remote diagnostic capabilities, and physical and occupation rehabilitation to name just a few. Cook could simply be there to discuss iOS in healthcare in general or to specifically address its potential as an oncology tool.
Another reason that may have been on the minds or the organizers is Apple’s involvement in the design and construction of hospital facilities at Stanford University. The company is a major donor to plans to revitalize Stanford’s two hospitals, a fact that Cook pointed out while delivering Apple’s recent financial results. In addition to being a donor, Apple is one of the tech companies working with Stanford to develop new approaches to patient access, information, education and navigation. Other tech companies involved in the project include HP, Intel, Intuit, Oracle, and eBay.
Of course, inviting Cook does offer a chance to discuss specific challenges and approaches that Apple took while Jobs was ill, including the decision to cover up the extent of his illness and its consequences. A related reason to invite Cook as Apple’s CEO could be a public relations move to raise the profile of the conference and NCCN
The list of other invitees covers a wide stretch of backgrounds including cancer specialists, cancer survivors, a human resource executives, and an engineering director. That casts a wide net that could factor into any of these possibilities – or indeed all of them. It is worth noting that this is the only event during the conference to heavily factor professionals form outside the healthcare field.