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Apple's health service efforts reportedly stall as it shifts focus to Apple Watch

The iPhone maker has had to shelve some of its bigger health care goals amid roadblocks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple is reportedly shifting away from some of its more ambitious health care initiatives. 
Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Apple had big dreams for health care in the last several years, but those ambitions have reached a standstill, according to a Wednesday report by The Wall Street Journal. Many of the company's plans to shake up health care have had a hard time gaining traction, people familiar with the matter told the publication. The Journal also reviewed documents chronicling these challenges. 

The iPhone maker had reportedly planned to offer its own primary care medical service with doctors it employed in its own clinics. To try out the plan, Apple took over clinics geared toward employees and formed teams with clinicians, engineers and product designers, as well as others, according to the Journal. But those lofty goals have stalled as the company has reportedly shifted its focus to selling devices like the Apple Watch instead. 

The primary care service reportedly hasn't launched, and a digital health app that debuted quietly this year hasn't had much success attracting users. Additionally, some employees have reportedly questioned the integrity of health data from Apple's clinics that's used for product development. 

Apple reportedly planned to provide a medical service that would connect data generated by Apple devices to virtual and in-person medical care from Apple doctors. The company would provide both primary care and continuous health monitoring through a subscription-based health program, the Journal reports. If the company could show that its model can boost people's health and decrease costs, it could franchise the model to health systems and other countries, the documents say, according to the Journal. 

To test the service, Apple reportedly took over employee health clinics by its headquarters that were being run by a startup. The company hired Dr. Sumbul Desai from Stanford University in 2017 to lead the initiative, which was codenamed Casper, according to the Journal. The initiative is still running, but Apple reportedly hasn't managed to push Casper beyond a preliminary stage. Many employees have reportedly left Desai's unit, saying its culture discourages critical feedback. Some employees allege internal data on the clinics' performance has been inaccurate or gathered haphazardly, according to the Journal.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.