American healthcare insurance provider Aetna is considering a partnership with Apple regarding the Apple Watch, according to reports.
The news was broken by US media outlet CNBC, which said that senior officials from Aetna, Apple and a number of hospital chief medical officers held “a series of secret discussions” last Thursday and Friday about a possible partnership.
Aetna currently offers a subsidized Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as a health and wellbeing perk. Now, the suggestion is that the two companies will form a partnership that will see either free or discounted Apple Watches offered to Aetna’s 23 million customers.
A healthy partnership
Supposedly, Aetna wishes to encourage its customers to lead a healthier lifestyle and to better track their diets. There is no suggestion as yet that customers will be offered reduced premiums for taking up this offer.
Apple, on the other hand, is said to already be exploring new ways in which to give its device appeal in the healthcare market. As well as the addition of wireless connectivity, the hardware is likely to soon feature a continuous and non-invasive blood sugar monitoring system, which might be a useful add-on for people with diabetes, for example.
Read more: Apple, EVRYTHNG announce new IoT insurance partnerships
A savvy change of direction
Research company IDC has estimated that global shipments of healthcare wearables are projected to increase at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 percent to 240 million units in 2021. These numbers represent a significant opportunity, and serve as an indication as to why Apple is turning its attention to the healthcare market.
Access to a wider customer base, through partnerships with companies like Aetna, could see Apple extend its lead over close rivals in the wearables market, such as Fitbit. The Apple Watch sold 22 million units for the first three months of 2017, according to market research company Strategy Analytics, making it the top-selling wearable tracker.
With Fitbit device shipments falling 35 percent year on year and Apple Watch shipments growing at nearly 60 percent over the same period, potential partnerships such as this would suggest that Apple’s decision to target healthcare is paying off.
Six weeks to go: On 26 & 27 September 2017, Internet of Business will be holding its Internet of Insurance USA event in Austin, Texas. This event will focus on how insurance carriers can capitalize on IoT.