Apple begins offering free gene testing services to Silicon Valley employees

Apple’s employees in Silicon Valley now have access to free disease genetic testing, thanks to Apple’s pilot partnership with Color Genology. Apple has been working with Color Genology for months, according to several people familiar with the matter. Last year, Apple set up a specialized medical clinic for employees and their families near its headquarters called AC Wellness, which aims to provide a better medical experience.

Apple begins offering free gene testing services to Silicon Valley employees

This time, in partnership with Color Genology, it’s moving from a passive clinic service to an active service, because genetic testing provides a window into future health risks. In some cases, patients can take precautions to reduce the likelihood of illness.

By providing cutting-edge medical services such as genetic testing, analysts say, AC Wellness can help Apple recruit and retain talent. Moreover, while AC Wellness is technically a company independent of Apple, medical experts believe it can help Apple quietly test new products or ideas without the risk of disclosure. This time with Color Genology suggests that Apple may have a broader interest in the field.

In fact, Apple has publicly acknowledged its interest in the health market and is pushing ahead with a series of efforts, including its health and fitness tracker, the Apple Watch smartwatch, clinical research applications in partnership with academic medical centers, and partnerships with health insurer Aetna.

But so far, Apple has taken only one tentative step in genetics by introducing genetic data into its software, ResearchKit, which makes it easier for academic researchers to use the iPhone for medical research.

Apple isn’t the only technology company to set up health clinics for its employees. Recently, Amazon launched a virtual medical clinic called Amazon Care for employees in the Seattle area, but did not say whether it would offer genetic testing.

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