Apple is pushing deeper into the $3.6 trillion healthcare industry

  • Apple made clear it's going deeper into the healthcare industry on Tuesday. 
  • There's a new fitness service for Apple Watch that dinged Peloton's stock. 
  • There's also a new watch feature that can also monitor users' blood oxygen levels. 
  • Over the past few years, Apple has pushed deeper into healthcare through research, its devices, and partnerships.
  • For more stories like this, sign up here for Business Insider's daily healthcare newsletter.

Apple on Tuesday revealed it's pushing deeper into the $3.6 trillion healthcare industry. 

During its September event, the company debuted a new fitness service for Apple Watch that connects the device to trainers and workouts. It'll sync with Apple's other products and deliver new workout videos each week. Peloton, which offers a similar service, saw its  stock dip on the news, though it's since recovered. 

Called "Fitness+", it's not available until later this year, according to Apple, but the significant push into wellness shows the $2 trillion tech giant is getting more serious about its hardware-focused healthcare business. 

"Apple Fitness+ is very timely and relevant for consumers who increasingly care about fitness and exercise routines during the pandemic," Thomas Husson, an analyst and vice president at Forrester, told Business Insider. 

"Subscription-based video libraries of fitness classes like Peloton will suffer," he said.

Read more: How tech titans like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are taking on the the $3.6 trillion healthcare industry

The latest version of the Apple Watch, announced Tuesday, can also monitor users' blood oxygen levels. Having information about blood oxygen levels has become even more critical in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as a way to flag dangerous downturns in health. 

Apple and Mount Sinai are studying the psychological effects of COVID-19 on healthcare workers

Beyond fitness, Apple's CEO Tim Cook — who's said that the company's greatest contribution to mankind will be about health — said the watch is already saving people's lives. 

He highlighted recent work at Mount Sinai as one example, where a study is collecting data from Apple Watches about healthcare workers with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

It aimed to better understand the psychological impact of coronavirus and identify infections before symptoms developed, Mount Sinai said in a post. 

Apple's health ambitions go beyond the Apple Watch

Apple's ambitions in healthcare extend way beyond the Apple Watch, though it's certainly taking a front-row seat. 

Hundreds of providers and services have integrated with Apple's personal health record, available through several Apple devices, per an industry report by CB Insights. Among them: LabCorp, the Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins. 

The record tracks allergies, lab results, and medications, though notably doesn't communicate with other servers in healthcare. That indicates Apple's health strategy lacks monetization of healthcare data, at least for now. Rival Google is watched really closely for any moves in that direction. 

Apple does do some work with health plans, however. It developed a program with Aetna, as one example, to encourage healthier behaviors for phone and watch users. Announced Tuesday, CVS Health is offering special access for customers and employees to Apple Fitness. 

Apple's also home to a huge portfolio of medical devices made by acquired companies, like Beddit, a group that monitors sleeping, Tueo Health, which tracks asthma, and, which works with machine learning tools, CB Insights reported. 

More broadly, Big Tech seems to be carving out a bigger and bigger niche in healthcare. Just in the past few weeks, Amazon recently announced Amazon Halo, a fitness band and app. And Google Cloud made a $100 million investment in Amwell, one of the biggest telehealth companies in the world. 

For Apple's part, the watch in particular is a catalyst for more to come, Husson said.

"With this launch Apple demonstrated once again that it excels at creating experiences that are relevant in the daily lives of its customers," Husson said.

"The Apple Watch is also a great catalyst to pivot its strategy to services while continuing to innovate with a new product category that did not exist several years ago," he said.

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