It doesn’t matter if you’re a supporter of Trump Administrative policies or you stand your ground with Obamacare, healthcare is being influenced by some of the biggest tech giants of the world. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Amazon – each one of them is working to develop a healthcare system that will transform the health industry, the current state of which has haunted us with rising costs and inadequacies for years.
The current healthcare system requires a fully restructured design as existing healthcare business models and organizational stakeholders are preoccupied with their own conflicting interests, resulting in high costs, inefficient administration and discontented customers. This has opened a “gateway” of opportunity for tech corporations to reform the healthcare system in some way.
Here is an overview of some of the big tech healthcare projects that are working presently or are in progress.
Flatiron Health, sponsored by Google Ventures, has developed a cloud-based technology that lets community oncologists, academics, hospitals, life science researchers and regulators work together on a shared-information basis. It collects the patient’s data from different centers without identifying details and invading patient privacy and shares it with medical companies and research institutions. This New York based start-up is currently being used by about 260 cancer clinics.
Moreover, Google is directing its efforts on AI and machine learning for organizing and processing health data than any other tech corp. In 2015, Google restructured into Alphabet and formed three affiliates to focus on health via AI technology:
- Verily is developing tools and techniques, interventions and research platforms to collect and organize health data for an improved healthcare management and experience
- DeepMind is devoted to find novel techniques to incorporate AI in healthcare
- Calico focuses on AI techniques application and research to combat ageing and age-related ailments
Apple iPhone and watches are some of the most widely used products all over the world. Connected together with smart phone apps, these products can help researchers and scientists big time in inventing new medicines and healthcare techniques. One such successful illustration of this is Apple’s ResearchKit platform which helps researchers recruit participants for new investigations and studies. Participants can enroll themselves in trials via an app and take surveys. Some of the big names like University of Oxford, Stanford Medicine, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have partnered with Apple’s ResearchKit.
Apple is also reportedly launching its own medical clinics to deliver a holistic healthcare experience to its employees and their families. Two primary medical clinics are said to be opened in California naming AC Wellness.
Amazon: Major tech giants
Amazon, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, is working on new ways to provide their employees with improved and low-cost healthcare coverage.
In a joint statement, the owners stated that
However, according to several reports, strategies are still being developed and the program is in its initial phases yet. So far, nothing has been decided or reported (what if the trio is keeping their plans a secret?) beyond establishing a company and moving ahead.
Zocdoc, sponsored by Amazon, Khosla Ventures and Goldman Sachs, has proven to be a new revolution in telemedicine. It is an online appointment booking service based in New York which allows its users to find in-network physicians that are nearby and book appointments online. Users can read reviews from other patients and by entering their symptoms can find a practitioner that best suits their needs.
Uber: Tech giants investing in healthcare
After Uber Eats, this ride-sharing company has put their hands in the health sector by launching Uber Health, an app that allows health organizations to book rides for caregivers and their patients. A medical assistant can either drive to a patient’s home for tackling emergency situations or dispatch an Uber to the patient’s house, without the patient having to download the app or even have a smartphone. Uber Health is a great option for patients who are old, unable to drive due to some injury and need frequent hospital visits.
It can prove to be a positive and helpful initiative as ambulances can get stuck in traffic and delays can worsen the patient’s condition. It can also reduce transportation costs from the already overburdened healthcare system. But right now, it would be too early to say that this initiative will be productive. The app needs more acceptance from the general public and partnerships with hospitals and clinics in order to bring some real change.
Tech giants are working hard for developing new tools and techniques for modernized health care. How much of it will really prove to be beneficial depends on the upcoming time. Tech ventures can bring out a positive outcome but putting all hopes on tech projects for reformed healthcare would be “too naïve” at the moment, as many such endeavors have worked for years but failed to reach a critical mass in the audience such as Google Health.