Apple health team struggles to find a focus

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Apple health care
The ECG feature on Apple Watch Series 4.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Tensions have been rising inside Apple’s health team over the last year or so, according to a new report that reveals some of the top employees from the division have left the company.

While healthcare has become one of Apple’s biggest focuses recently, the report claims the health team has seen a number of leadership changes and internal disagreements leading some employees to be disillusioned with the group’s culture.

CNBC talked to a handful of “people familiar with the situation” that said the issues have been rising over the last several years. Some of the health team employees have allegedly felt like their grand ideas to tackle issues in the health care system have been sidelined in favor of features that are geared toward everyone.

To be fair, the report sounds like almost any division at a major corporation. CNBC even admits that it doesn’t know if the attrition rate within the health team is higher than at other divisions at Apple. Still, the report does pull back the curtain on a few of the issues that the health team is debating.

Trouble within Apple’s health team

It sounds like some of the employees were hoping to tackle bigger challenges than just new creating new workout types on Apple Watch. Some in the group were hoping to tackle telemedicine, health payments, medical devices and more. Instead, the most advanced thing Apple has released was an ECG as part of the Apple Watch Series 4. Some in the group weren’t very happy about how that launch was handled though.

Apple Watch’s ECG received some negative response from people in the medical industry when it launched last year. That frustrated some Apple employees who wanted to do a small, focused product launch so the medical community could provide feedback first. Apple’s love for secrecy has been challenging to maintain in the health care industry though.

Debates within groups has always been a staple at Apple since back in the Steve Jobs days though because hopefully, the best ideas would win out. If you’re a qualified MD that was recruited by Apple to help change the healthcare industry it would be frustrating to not see that happen the way you hoped. As a result, some of those high profiles have already left the company.