2 min read.Updated: 10 Nov 2021, 06:44 PM ISTMARIA ARMENTAL, The Wall Street Journal
Executive joins tech giant as it looks to expand health and wellness offerings
Apple Inc. has added the departing chief executive of Johnson & Johnson to its board, underscoring the technology giant’s push to expand its health and wellness offerings.
Alex Gorsky said in August that he was stepping aside from running the world’s largest health-products company and is set to become its executive chairman in January.
Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson praised Mr. Gorsky’s expertise. “As a thoughtful and passionate leader, Alex has helped bring cutting-edge technologies to some of healthcare’s most urgent and complex challenges," he said in a statement. “His voice and vision will help Apple continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives through the power of technology."
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has said Apple’s greatest contribution would be in health.
The company has added new features to its devices to help users, for example, track their sleep, measure their pulses and detect when they fall. The Apple watch can help detect a heart-rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation and has a function that measures blood-oxygen levels. The company has highlighted the features’ lifesaving potential, although some doctors have also questioned whether they could trigger false alarms or lead to unnecessary medical care.
Apple has also looked at ways to expand its healthcare offerings, including with a tool to help measure blood pressure and a wrist thermometer for its smartwatch. It has also pursued the possibility of using AirPods, its wireless earbuds, as a health device that could enhance hearing, monitor posture and read body temperature, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Apple previously declined to comment on such potential new features for products.
A former U.S. Army captain, Mr. Gorsky joined Johnson & Johnson in 1988 as a sales representative and became CEO and chairman in 2012. He will hand over the reins of the company to a longtime lieutenant, Joaquin Duato.
An advocate of diversity and inclusion as well as veterans’ issues, Mr. Gorsky was among the executives who spoke up about the death of George Floyd, a Black man murdered last year by a white Minneapolis police officer.
“There will always be a multitude of reasons for parents to worry about their children, but racist violence should not be one of them," Mr. Gorsky said.
Mr. Cook has also been outspoken about social justice issues at Apple and has talked frequently about why such advocacy is important to him as a corporate executive. In 2020, he wrote a letter to employees after Mr. Floyd’s killing, calling for more action to create change.