Apple Banking on Toronto Doctor to Assist with Healthcare Messaging
Dr. Mike Evans has gained some Internet popularity by producing a series of YouTube videos that provide details on common medical problems. His videos caught the eye of someone inside Apple and the company has recently hired Evans to help them hone their healthcare messaging.

“DocMikeEvans,” as he is referred to in his videos, is the head of digital preventive medicine at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and an associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto. Previously, Evans worked as a physician at Toronto-based St. Michael’s Hospital.

Evans’ primary focus with Apple will be on worldwide health innovation. When asked about his vision for the future of healthcare, Evans describes a healthy combination of in-person visits mixed with advanced technology.

“In the future, I’ll prescribe you an app,” he says. “One of our whiteboards will drop in and explain what high blood pressure is. The phone will be Bluetoothed to the cap of your pills. I’ll nudge you towards a low salt diet. All of these things will all happen in your phone. I see you two or three days a year. The phone sees you everyday.”

Evans has dubbed the approach to his YouTube videos “peer-to-peer healthcare.” Evans launched his online Med School for the Public in 2011. The channel currently has nearly 75,000 subscribers and more than 15.5 million views.

In his new role with Apple, Evans will split time between Toronto and Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. “I think why they are engaging me is the messaging,” says Evans. “We’re searching for consistency, not perfection.”

Although Evans had previously been approached by Apple and turned them down, the company remained in touch because of Evans’ unique, and ultimately successful, approach. “I think they were most interested, interestingly, in how I worked with creatives,” he said.

Last month, Apple made a splash by acquiring its first digital health company, the personal health records startup Gliimpse. They have also began to foster greater credibility in the healthcare sector through the development of their HealthKit, CareKit, and ResearchKit platforms.

For his part, Evans wants to help Apple figure out how to further motivate people to seek better health and disease management solutions in order to ultimately lead healthier lives. For some, motivation may be derived from messaging on a watch or a whiteboard in a video, Evans believes. But for others, social competition or a reward-based system may provide the incentive they need.

“To be honest, I think we’ll all be different,” he says. “The future will be figuring that out.” There’s no doubt his new job will be difficult at times, but Evans is up for the challenge. “It’s exciting,” he says. “It’s a bit nauseating and anxiety-provoking. We love Toronto but it’s a chance to live another chapter of our lives somewhere else. I’m super-excited.”

While there’s no telling where this new opportunity could take Evans and his family. He intends to remain in the Toronto area at least until his older son graduates high school. Leslie Shepherd, spokesperson for St. Michael’s Hospital, recently said that the hospital hopes to retain ties with Evans.

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Posted by: DSR
Monday, January 2, 2017
Tag: Healthcare
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