Apple partnered with Color to bring genetic testing to its employees – Business Insider Nordic

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:43 pm

The tech giant is granting a segment of its California-based employees access to DNA sequencing startup Color's genetic screenings free of charge through Apple's on-site health clinics, CNBCreports.

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Apple's dedicated health clinics dubbed AC Wellness wereunveiled at the beginning of 2018, and though they're located on-site, AC Wellness is a separate company from Apple. The Apple offshoot has supposedly been collaborating with Color for several months, sources divulged to CNBC.

Apple's move to offer its employees free access to genetic testing underscores its proactive approach to employee health services as it and other large, self-insured employers look for ways to stomp down medical spending.

Any insights extracted from Color's genetic tests will come with genetic counseling and be interpreted by AC Wellness docs which could guide customized, effective care.Color's test pinpoints gene mutations linked to common and costly conditions, like certain types of cancer and heart disease.

Theoretically, if a patient's genetic test comes back with a result that's cause for concern, doctors could formulate a personalized treatment plan that helps patients take preventative moves to sidestep disease development or progression and, in the case of cardiovascular disease, Apple could save big, considering heart disease costs could top$1 trillionin the US over the next two decades, per an RTI International study.

Further, providing employees with Color's service which comes with geneticcounselingand could help steer docs' care is a smart move since only asliverof doctors think physicians have the knowledge and skill set needed to help patients comprehend direct-to-consumer genetic test results, per a 2019 study.

And Apple's tie-up with Color comes as self-insured employers are looking for innovative ways to build up an armor against an impendingrisein medical costs.We're seeing prominent businesses take action to cut down on healthcare costs by offering services to connect employees with fast access to care: Amazon recentlylaunchedAmazon Care a virtual care service for its employees and Walmartexpandedtelehealth offerings and debuted a personalized health concierge program for its workers.

Employers' average annual premium contribution reached an all-time high of$14,500in 2019 up from the $9,800 they shelled out a decade earlier and as this number climbs, self-insured employers will need to continue to develop innovative solutions to help curb spending.

And while Apple's alliance with Color might hint at a future in which the tech giant incorporates genetic testing services into its clinical research play we're not sure this would go over well with consumers.

Genetic testing insights could be a value-add to Apple's aggressive clinical research endeavors.In recent months, Apple has made it clear that its health play hinges on forging clinical research partnerships: It's building out its Watch as a health tool, andflauntsalliances with medical research titans. And if it were to, for instance, purchase a genetic testing startup and aggregate that huge repository of data alongside its already-rich set of smartphone- and wearable-generated data Apple could become an even more valuable research partner.

But consumers are wary about sharing their health data let alone sensitive genetic information with big tech firms.Only about 10% of US consumers would be willing to hand off health info to a tech firm and of that minute percentage, only42%tap Apple as a trusted recipient, per Rock Health.

We think Apple would face a huge amount of scrutiny among consumers and docs alike if it tried to tie up more broadly with a genetic testing firm, especially in the wake of heightened wariness surrounding tech giants' use of health data: For example, Google is currently under investigation from the US Department of Justice after a partnership with health system Ascensionusheredin backlash from physicians who were unaware of the deal.

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Apple partnered with Color to bring genetic testing to its employees - Business Insider Nordic

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