My Challenge to Apple: Try Harder for Women
I originally published this article on LinkedIn on June 4, 2019.
I saw a lot of buzz around their new Health app enhancements, specifically related to women's health. Being the #femtech enthusiast that I am, I was excited to learn more. What I found ultimately disappointed me. The big change was a new Cycle Tracking feature on the Apple Watch. My first thought was shock at how this sort of digital calendaring is what a lot of the first health-related apps provided ten years ago. Is Apple JUST getting here?
You may have seen other news that throws shade at Fitbit for taking so long to add menstruation tracking to their app, which didn't happen until mid-2018. When I have looked at both the Fitbit "Female Health Tracking and Trends" and the Apple "Reproductive Health" tracker I've found an uninspiring interface laden with user burden for data entry. Apple suggests some related apps that in theory could be synced with Apple Health but this seems like step that brings little user value.
Ultimately, I am disappointed more than anything. A company like Apple has the resources to boldly address major issues in women's health and instead they have watered it down to what feels like checking a box and just tracking a woman's menstrual cycle. The Apple Watch is already laden with sensors, couldn't temp be added for a passive fertility metric, akin to what Ava offers? Apple has partnered with Beddit-- a sensor that you sleep on. Wouldn't it be interesting if they could tease out maternal heart rate and fetal heart rate to identify potential signs of pre-eclampsia or fetal distress? What about focusing some of their Heart research specifically on women? Or monitoring glucose levels in diabetics via their sweat? Could Apple look at various biometrics during peri-menopause and menopause that could lead to better drug development to assist women in that season of life?
I challenge Apple to leverage their technical, financial, creative, and medical resources to commit to addressing the whole woman in their health and product strategy. And Apple, if you need some new ideas, I'm happy to help.