In Healthcare, Apple Must Square Up To Huge Samsung Ambitions

Jun 11 2014, 5:08am CDT | by

Apple went public last week with its new Health Kit, the SDK for health applications on iOS 8, and its partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Rival Samsung, though, is already way down the road into healthcare on many fronts.

Too little too late from Apple? That was hardly the mood after WWDC. And Apple will bring its incredible branding power and ease of use to the sector, while Samsung brings muscle and aggression.

But let’s be clear. Samsung is well entrenched in health.

Apple earned plaudits last week from an adoring audience but Samsung moved into health two years earlier with its Galaxy S3. Its Note and Galaxy smartphones are now integrated with its own tracking device, the Gear Fit.

So far, so good. Samsung will be a worthy competitor with its health-oriented devices and services. But the endgame in health is integration. Who will control the relationship between patient and health care provider?

Apple chose to announce its health app and health kit along with a new partnership with renowned health institution – the Mayo Clinic.

That might be good for demonstrating some of the benefits of health monitoring but The Mayo Clinic is just one institution. Its relevance is symbolic. More important in the long run is its partnership with Epic Systems, a hospital information systems provider. Information Week believes it will give Apple huge credibility in the hospital environment.

Meanwhile Samsung has chosen a variety of routes into health. Just prior to Apple’s announcement Samsung announced SAMI – “the Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions, a cloud-based open software platform capable of bringing together diverse data from a variety of sources for analysis.”

Samsung also showed a modular wearable device (albeit a “reference architecture” rather than a shipping product) that’s capable of accepting plug-in sensors from third-party hardware developers.

Those measures have been interpreted as a spoiling gesture on the eve of Apple’s WWDC. But Samsung has been positioning itself in health care in a much more comprehensive way than Apple has.

While SAMI might be a strategy for how to take data from a variety of wearable devices and integrate them in a dashboard, Samsung’s real ambition is “to become a global leader as a healthcare company through joining together its display, semiconductor, and mobile businesses”.

In other words, for Samsung, health is about bringing it all together. It funnels a lot of that energy through its subsidiary Samsung Medison.

Through Samsung Medison and its core electronics business, Samsung has a growing business in medical imaging and diagnostics (for example in Ultrasound technology and X-Ray), medical Cloud, and in mobile patient records access within hospitals.


It is also collaborating with global health insurer CIGNA, though the exact details  of the deal announced in the Fall of 2013 are unclear. The collaboration is specifically targeted at the S Health platform, which is interesting but only becomes important if it has a cost benefit for patients or hospitals. The two companies explained the scope at the time:

The initial development is focused on delivering health-related tips and articles through the Samsung S Health Application, with an ultimate goal of connecting individuals with caregivers, doctors and hospitals to improve health and wellness globally.

That’s easier when you already have a position inside the hospital, in diagnostics.

So Apple has moved into health and earned a lot of kudos. Samsung is in the diagnostics business, has a lever on the health insurance model, has the mobile platform and ideas on how to integrate and analyze the data. As mobile becomes more and more about the service, the Apple Samsung rivalry is set to grow.

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