Tech giants – Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet are hastening efforts in their pursuit of taking over the healthcare market. They’re beginning to sharpen up their tactics on all areas in the ecosystem. Within the past 6 months alone, they’ve made huge announcements about their ideas for renovating the healthcare industry. These multi-billion dollar companies certainly have the resources to invest in large-scale projects to evolve the systems, products, and processes that doctors use regularly. But this prediction of a near-future healthcare invasion begs the question; why are tech giants are investing in healthcare at all? Let’s see what health care news says.
Hospitals and health institutes are facing a challenge to cope with people that are growing more and sicker due to the ongoing pandemic. This presents them with higher operating costs and the pursuit of evolving these services to be quick and efficient, to save time and cost. Big tech giants have stepped in to address these problems, by bridging the gap between technology and doctors to make processes more streamlined, thus giving health institutions the prospect to realize their full potential and most importantly, cost savings. Tech companies are attempting to hone up their efforts to reform the healthcare industry by developing and collaborating on new products that could revolutionize the industry, aiding consumers and healthcare professionals alike, by enhancing the interoperability of different systems within healthcare, shrinking data sharing gaps and enabling doctors to gather a more complete set of health data for members, and granting pharmaceutical companies the ability to streamline drug development and manufacturing, according to health care news.
The introduction of EHR or Electronic Health Record served as a milestone for the beginning of an evolving industry. EHR made the process much easier as doctors no longer had to look through a patient’s papers to know his medical record, it used to be even harder if the patient was coming from another hospital as doctors had to make calls to get information. With EHR, healthcare professionals needed only to scan a QR code and their computer would display the patient’s entire medical record. In 2013, they introduced a consumer-wearable called Google Glass, which was a pair of glasses with an onboard computer and miniature laser projector that could display information directly to the person wearing it, without having him to look away. Google Glass was also adopted by the healthcare industry at the time which made sourcing information for doctors more convenient. Followed by Google, other tech companies also jumped the bandwagon with their attempt at besting out Google, namely Toshiba DynaEdge AR, Sony SmartEyeglass SED-E1, and Microsoft HoloLens. This also led to the foundation of a new industry altogether, “Augmented Reality (A.R)”.
Now, the big four tech giants are each striving to carve out spaces within healthcare. Alphabet, a company founded by the creators of Google which is set to become the parent holding company for Google and its products, is taking advantage of its A.I proficiency to help develop precision medicine. Apple is focusing on clinical research by employing its wearable devices. Amazon with its brilliant shipping network is knuckling down on medical supply delivery. Microsoft is reaching across the board with its HoloLens, a series of consumer wearables for EHR in hopes to point attention towards its extraordinary cloud storage systems, Microsoft Azure.
In the past few years, chief tech companies have been making some note-worthy announcements regarding their investment in the healthcare industry, where we will be focusing on the big four: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Alphabet.
- Amazon sought a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway holdings and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in January 2018 with a mission to decrease healthcare costs, improve patient satisfaction and streamline services for employees.
- Amazon acquired PillPack, an online American pharmacy in June 2018, marking its entry into the market. A few months later Amazon Prime membership holders started receiving marketing emails about PillPack.
- Amazon made a $2 million investment in Deaconess Medical Center, Boston in 2016 for putting their A.I development into the trial.
- In October 2019, Amazon acquired Health Navigator, a startup company that provides technology and digital services to health institutions. Amazon used this deal to integrate it into its care program, Amazon Care.
- Amazon Echo, a smart speaker, received HIPAA compliance in 2019, which gave it legal permission to have access to sensitive patient data. After being tested, it is set to help patients manage health conditions. It is also been approved to be used in clinics and hospitals.
- In September 2018, Apple added an Electrocardiogram (ECG) to its Watch Series 4. The ECG equipped Apple Watch was able to record rhythms of its user’s heartbeat onto a graph. It also sends a notification when an irregular rhythm is detected, as a warning sign to seek further evaluation from a doctor.
- Later, Apple developed its Health app for the iPhone that enabled patients to store their health records from multiple hospitals and clinics.
- Apps like Epocrates and Epic Haiku were added to the app store that enabled patients to lookup drug prescription and enabled clinicians to access schedules and test results directly from their iPhone.
- The Apple ResearchKit was developed, which allows app developers to launch research studies to consumers, directly through Apple products.
- The formation of a new department called Microsoft Healthcare seeks to introduce artificial intelligence and cloud storage enhancements to the healthcare industry as their need for storing patients’ data is increasing.
- Microsoft partnered with Providence St. Joseph to shift the data of 51 hospitals to Microsoft’s Azure cloud service giving 120,000 doctors access to their prime productivity software, Office 365.
- Microsoft recently announced a 5-year partnership with pharmaceutical giant Novartis for employing their A.I expertise in clinical research.
- In August 2017, Alphabet acquired Stenosis Health, which specializes in using sensors built into smartphones as health monitoring devices.
- To help eliminate diseases like Malaria, Project Debug was released that released genetically engineered mosquitoes into the environment that cannot bite, breed, or spread disease.