Big Tech's Take Over
The giants make more moves in health as every company becomes a healthcare company
So we’re shifting the lens off of Australia for a sec…
Sorry - especially to those from the US promised Aussie content. It’s likely old news for you but if I’ve missed something juicy chime in in the comments.
Something I’m super interested in is Big Tech’s forays and future healthcare…
And boy, has this past week been a biggie! 💥
A lot has happened, so let’s take a look at what’s going on...
Amazon Keeps Charging Ahead Leveraging Market Share, Margins and Consumer Sentiment
Amazon just announced their first digital health accelerator launching in the US later this year.
With a ”focus on technologies such as remote patient monitoring, data analytics, patient engagement, voice technology and virtual care”. And supposed wholesome motives.
“The goal … to cultivate and promote innovative startup solutions that achieve the Quadruple Aim of improved patient experience, improved clinician experience, better health outcomes, and lower cost of care”
~ Sandy Carter, VP of worldwide public sector partners and programs at Amazon Web Services
It’s no shock they are now nurturing in house… was only a matter of time.
The health game for them is nothing new…
First, “failure” Haven, then Amazon Pharmacy launching late 2020, followed by Amazon Care; its employer telehealth solution - set to scale to 50 states after recently signing multiple companies and needing “thousands of employees” to rise to the challenge.
Trials so far rumour positive reports from patients, and with the strong history of reliability and delivering great experiences, it’s not hard to see how they can continue to leverage consumer trust which is lacking in health institutions.
AWS, the arm with on-demand cloud computing platforms & APIs, has tried, and is conquering the broader Aus Startup ecosystem. At least from a PR front. They’re partners of, well… everyone. VCs, Innovation Hubs, Syndicates and Accelerators.
Handing out credits like candy and hosting impressive office hours, international summits and upskilling initiatives.
And now have healthtech in their sites, working with new QLD Accelerators, SunRamp & LuminaX and a suite of products, not all yet in Aus, specially designed for the quality and compliance required in health.
Google and Microsoft are trying to get in on this action, making moves in the startup ecosystem… and providing bases for hospital systems too.
Microsoft Has Been Quiet Of Late, but That’s Not a Bad Thing…
Last year Cloud for Healthcare launched providing complete care team collaboration, data congregation and access pathways in attempts to break down the current silos. Including Teams and end to end management of telehealth consultations.
There’s even a Healthcare Bot to help triage patients 🤖
IoT is another focus, specifically how it can assist interoperability. Experimenting with how to effectively integrate devices & software - they released Azure IoT Connector for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) in preview last year.
In April Nuance joined the family for a low $19.7B. This AI speech-technology company aims to help address the doctor-patient engagement problem, with a product enabling conversion of consultations into documentation.
It’s a large play with a long way to go, but building this solid base is an exciting start.
It also all now makes sense given their few public efforts in Aus have focused on upskilling healthcare employees on their platforms.
Apple Is Also in the Race to Ensure It Lives up to Its Claim That “It’s Legacy Will Be Health”
Other upgrades include selective sharing of data with friends and family, services to help patients decode and make the most of their data, and even diagnostic features… basically making move to become the ultimate patient self serve health tool.
Fitt Insider does a great job diving into their latest moves here.
Like the rest of the herd, they reportedly trialled plans for a primary care service on its own employees, supposedly in the works since 2016 but the plan hasn’t moved past the preliminary stages with red flags about data collection and culture.
JP Morgan, another of the collapsed Haven Healthcare clan, also just jumped on the empoyee health bandwagon with plans to launch Morgan Health for 160k staff
Google Has Been Back and Forth - Scaling Back Its Google Health Team & Reorganising Employees to Fitbit
Google Health has dabbled in everything from EMRs, AI models, population data, wearables to clinical trials.
But recently downsized moving 130 employees into 3 other areas - Clinical, Health AI, and a collaborative team managing regulatory, clinical and equity issues within it’s combined health group.
Scott Thomson, Head of Innovation (Aus) recently said “life sciences and healthcare are a major priority” focusing on the ‘human-centric data model’ for the group.
”We’re heavily investing in technologies around biopharmaceuticals, medtech, medical diagnostics, and health plans – to name a few.”
In May they announced a deal with National US hospital chain HCA Healthcare to access patient health records from their 181 hospitals and >2000 sites to develop healthcare algorithms. But there are concerns this creates a problem for consumers and adding further to the issues of privacy and cybersecurity.
It will be interesting to see what comes next, but it’s no wonder they are pushing resources into wearables.
Wearables Are Taking the Game up a Few Levels 🎮
Fitbit recently enrolled 455K+ people in a mere 4 months into a heart study on atrial fibrillation. Delivering big value for the Google family after finalising its acquisition in Jan for $2.1B.
Studies on the Oura smart ring which generates continuous temperature data showed it may be a better indicator of illness than thermometers creating the possibility of earlier detection of COVID19 in asymptomatic patients.
The opportunities for this category to change personal health monitoring, management and research are unparalleled and still largely untapped.
Let’s Not Overlook Social Media
Though still a touch unclear where it sits, the one thing that is for sure is it has big potential.
At the recent HealthData21 conference, Curtis Murray demonstrated how data modelling of discussions on Reddit captured COVID symptoms before they were added to the list.
We’ve talked about how patient and professional communities congregate and create the support, care and information sources they lack elsewhere on socials.
Talking of questionable data use…
Facebook was playing with a Preventative Health Resource, but it’s been quiet for a bit… no doubt something will emerge. Perhaps they’re distracted by the breakup battles and new projects pushing into the creator economy.
Then there’s this…
Google Glass was an eyesore but the patent Facebook is filing for their new AR Hat might be worse (or maybe I’m just uncool now). Apple, Microsoft and HTC are all also working on AR headsets so it’s set to be a new trend.
*EDIT - I wonder where they got their design inspo from…
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…
Or so We’re Told
Many are fearful of the power these players possess and there are serious (justified) concerns around the ethics, ulterior motives and abuse of power.
It’s not like they have the best track record. So with regulation playing catch up, it’s a worry. But hopefully, we’ll see the trend of ethical tech and consumer data rights continue to grow.
I’m sceptical (and sure we’ll see scandals) but choosing to be cautiously optimistic.
There are wildly exciting opportunities for these guys to change the face of healthcare, in the best possible way, including much-needed equity & access.
So here’s hoping tech uses their all-consuming powers for good.
What do you think is the future of big tech in health? Drop a comment below and let me know!
Inspired by LinkedIn Bants
Shout out to:
Alex Carpenter for the Oura Ring study
Dr Amandeep Hansara noting Amazon is already on the provider side calling itself an ‘independent medical practice’
Tim Prosser noting Aus’s opportunity to be a leader in ethics and regulation
Cameron Neil noting Digital Rights Watch doing great work
Gretchen Scott for being also cautiously hopeful
Ross Hardy for the practical deep insights into health systems
George Margelis for great points around the ability to influence the pointy end of healthcare
Promise I shift my gaze back Downunder for the next one
Have a fab weekend and speak soon