Apple VP says skepticism of big tech in healthcare is 'healthy'

Apple Health Vice President Sumbul Desai, MD, told listeners at a roundtable discussion in London that it's "healthy" to be skeptical about the entrance of big technology companies in the healthcare market, according to The Independent.

"Having been a practitioner and worked in the health system, you recognize [skepticism] day-to-day as a doctor and you need to deal with it," she said. "The skepticism from providers — and patients — is healthy because you should ask questions, and make sure you're using information in the way you should be using it."

In recent months, tech companies such as Google and Amazon have faced backlash for how they are collecting patient data. Dr. Desai reassured consumers that those who use Apple products are the controllers of their own data, not Apple.

"Often when I meet the medical community they'll say to me: 'It must be so exciting, you have all this amazing data about people that you can do all this amazing learning on,' and my answer is always that actually we don't have any of the data," Dr. Desai said, according to The Independent. "That data sits on the device not from one central location; it's the user's data and we only ever have access to it if the user is participating in a study they consented to. Other than that, we do not look at their data."

Apple also understands why consumers may be skeptical and has taken steps to build trust, including with the launch of the Apple Watch atrial fibrillation feature, which was delayed.

"We didn't want to just throw the technology over the wall and make his skepticism even worse," Dr. Desai said. "We wanted to work with the medical community and allow people to have both positive and negative reactions to it because we learn from that."

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