Insider

A top Apple Health executive is leaving for a startup that’s trying to upend primary care for the masses

Summary List PlacementMyoung Cha, Apple Health's head of strategic initiatives, is leaving the company to work at Carbon Health, a primary care startup, Insider has learned.  Cha, who reported to Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, joined Apple in 2015 from McKinsey, where he was a partner. He was brought...

Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Apple, speaks about the new Apple Watch Series 4 at an Apple Inc product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Summary List Placement

Myoung Cha, Apple Health’s head of strategic initiatives, is leaving the company to work at Carbon Health, a primary care startup, Insider has learned. 

Cha, who reported to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, joined Apple in 2015 from McKinsey, where he was a partner. He was brought in to build Apple’s healthcare strategy and partnerships, which then were nearly nonexistent

In the years since, Cha led some of Apple’s defining health initiatives and partnerships, including programs for Aetna and Singapore, COVID-19 exposure notifications with Google, and the ongoing Heartline study with Johnson & Johnson. This is Cha’s final week at Apple, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Another person with knowledge of the matter described Cha as a visionary and a pioneer, and said that he would be missed at Apple, where he had a special talent for getting stuff done.

“Think about what all of these projects took,” the person said. “An incredible amount of work within a highly matrixed organization called Apple. Not to mention a lot of it involved negotiation with governments and other companies on the launching of big things.”

“So Myoung is very much used to making complicated things happen,” they added.

He will join Carbon in June as president of home-based care and chief strategy officer, Carbon confirmed to Insider. Apple and Cha declined Insider’s requests for comment.

Cha will grow Carbon’s home care operations, including virtual care, remote patient monitoring, and home diagnostics services, Carbon CEO Eren Bali said.

Myoung

Apple’s health ambitions

Apple’s been investing heavily in healthcare since Cha joined. Just in the last year, it introduced features like sleep tracking, a blood oxygen tool, and new workouts to the watch, an attempt to make it stickier for consumers and more useful to providers.

Apple Health has tech kits like the Health app that help consumers and developers access health information. But it also works with health plans, health systems, and sometimes governments. Many of those programs center around the Apple Watch, which people use to monitor their exercise, for example, sometimes for rewards.  

Some experts think Apple will only go deeper into health tools and sensors, like for blood pressure. A February job posting that’s been removed, first identified by MyHealthyApple, said that Apple is looking to develop “Apple-branded Health Hardware products.” 

It remains to be seen how much Apple ventures into delivering medical care, a key part of the health strategies of other big tech and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

Apple Health adopted health clinics in 2018 that provide care to employees but also test health services and products, CNBC’s Christina Farr reported at the time. That effort is led by Dr. Sumbul Desai, a vice president who joined Apple in 2017, according to LinkedIn.

Apple Watch SE

Carbon is growing fast with clinics and telehealth

Carbon Health offers in-person visits at clinics in 10 states, and telehealth in more.

It accepts insurance and cash, and it doesn’t charge a membership fee. The online service includes therapy and pediatric care, and the clinics have a range of care options from burn treatment to contraception

Cha is joining Carbon at the same time primary care is facing disruption from big tech companies as well as from startups. 

The area has attracted a lot of investment as an oft-neglected part of the healthcare industry that can make a big difference in people’s health. 

Crossover Health, a startup that mostly works with employers, raised $168 million in March for its mix of physical and in-person care. Primary care company One Medical went public in January 2020, followed seven months later by Medicare provider Oak Street Health.

carbon health clinic

But a lot of these newcomers focus on particular kinds of patients, like high-income folks, employees at big companies, and patients who’re higher risk. 

In contrast, Carbon is aiming for the whole market, with 89% of its patients neither super high-risk nor super rich, CEO Eren Bali told Insider. Twenty-five percent of patients are paying for Carbon’s services out of pocket, he said.

Carbon’s clinics became profitable in 2020, Bali said.

He attributes that in large part to Carbon’s technology, which it built from scratch to automate administrative tasks that typically plague doctors’ offices.

“Now we’re off to the races,” he said. 

Eren Bali Carbon Health Founder

With $175 million raised to date, mostly in the last year, Carbon plans to expand telehealth to all 50 states by this summer and grow its clinic footprint to 1,500 US locations by 2025. It’s adding clinics at a rate of two per day, Bali said.

As chief strategy officer, Cha will be joining Carbon’s C-suite of veterans from CVS Health, Deutsche Bank, course provider Udemy, and Team Health. 

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