Big tech in healthcare: Searching for gold in digitizing healthcare

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Big tech in healthcare: Searching for gold in digitizing healthcare

Big tech in healthcare: Searching for gold in digitizing healthcare

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In recent years, big tech companies have explored partnerships in the healthcare industry, both to provide improvements but also to claim massive profits.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • February 25, 2022

    Consumers' demands for convenient and fast healthcare services are pushing hospital and clinic networks to increasingly adopt digital tech solutions. Starting in the late 2010s, big tech companies, including Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft, have accelerated their pursuit of market share in the healthcare industry.

    Big tech in healthcare context

    The services and products championed by the tech sector over the past decade have helped carry people through the social distancing and workplace disruptions introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. And like other sectors, tech companies also stepped up to directly aid COVID-19 response efforts. 

    For example, Google and Apple came together to create an application that could leverage Bluetooth technology in mobile phones for contact tracing. This instantly scalable app pulled testing data and updated people if they needed to get tested or self-quarantine. The APIs that Google and Apple launched drove an ecosystem of tools that helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 and, potentially, future pandemics.  

    Outside the pandemic, big tech companies have also helped design and develop telehealth services managed by virtual care platforms. These digitized systems can help medical professionals provide proper care to patients who don't need an in-person visit. These companies have also been particularly interested in digitizing health records and providing the data management and insight generation services that these records require.

    However, US tech firms have also struggled to earn the confidence and trust of regulators and consumers as it relates to their handling of health record data during their involvement in the healthcare space. 

    Disruptive impact

    As companies like Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, and others further integrate themselves inside the healthcare sector, it's essential for legacy players, including insurers, hospitals, pharma companies, and health IT firms, to determine how their operating strategies might evolve into during the 2020s and 30s and what they stand to gain and lose during the digital transformation.

    Tech companies are providing health systems with the digital solutions required to patch up data sharing and interoperability gaps, as well as replace dated legacy systems and infrastructure. These enhancements, for example, allow pharmaceutical companies to streamline drug manufacturing and give health plan providers a chance to gather detailed health data for their members.

    Meanwhile, the forward march of tech giants into healthcare, in some scenarios, can be troubling to incumbents. For example, Amazon's prescription delivery platform has traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies looking for ideas to retain their customers.

    Applications for big tech in healthcare

    Big tech in the healthcare industry can:

    • Enhance disease monitoring and surveillance at the national and international levels. 
    • Provide patients with greater access to their health data through online telehealth portals, as well as make new diagnostic tools and cutting-edge treatments more accessible by investing in medical technology companies. 
    • Improve the timeliness and accuracy of public health data collection and reporting. 
    • Deliver faster, cost-efficient, and more effective solutions for disease control and injury care. 

    Questions to comment on

    • How do you think big tech companies are changing the healthcare sector? 
    • Do you feel that the involvement of big tech in the healthcare sector will make healthcare cheaper?
    • What might be the adverse effects of digital technologies in the healthcare sector?

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: