'It's like an orchestra and a symphony': Apple's health VP on company's holistic approach to healthcare 

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As Apple's vice president of health, Sumbul Desai, MD, oversees the tech giant's healthcare initiatives ranging from clinical partnerships to medical research and clinical product development. 

In a recent "Second Life" podcast, Dr. Desai shared some of her insights from leading Apple's healthcare division during the COVID-19 pandemic and how she values a holistic approach to healthcare through finding a balance among individuals' physical, mental and social needs. 

Three insights from Dr. Desai: 

1. Before joining Apple, Dr. Desai served as vice chair of strategy and innovation at Stanford Medicine and was the associate CMO at Stanford Healthcare. She credits medicine and the idea of holistic health as what drove her to join Apple. 

"Occupational therapists, physical therapists and doctors [sparked] my love for medicine," she said. "[When] medicine comes together, it's so multidisciplinary. And that's what [is] amazing about my work today; [it is] multidisciplinary work when it comes together. It's like an orchestra and a symphony." 

2. At Apple, Dr. Desai values partnerships with the medical community. She cited Apple's work with Stanford Medicine and University of Nebraska as key examples of the tech company's two-way interactions in healthcare. During the pandemic, Apple worked with both health systems to develop screening apps to help clinicians and patients monitor their symptoms and determine if they should be tested for the virus. 

3. While the past year was challenging and "heartbreaking for so many countries around the world," Dr. Desai said it was during this time that Apple's employees did some of the company's best work. 

"This is where Apple is at its best, when all the teams come together and focus on the work and do amazing work to help people," she said. "From the moment this all started, at Apple we wanted to find ways to help. And you know what was really impressive is that employees across the company found ways to help, everything big and small. I think that's just what speaks to the amazing culture of our company."

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