The healthcare sector is worth trillions of dollars annually. This represents a golden opportunity for Big Tech to make a lot of money.
Big Tech has been looking to build out its presence in the healthcare sector by putting a consumer-focus on traditional systems and processes.
A lot of people aren’t happy with Big Tech getting into the healthcare space as there is suspicion regarding its handling of consumer’s health data, especially in light of past indiscretions.
However, this hasn’t stopped the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) from making significant moves in recent times.
In June 2019, Amazon acquired the digital pharmacy known as PillPack for $753 million, with the goal of capturing a chunk of the $500 billion market for prescription drugs. It has already received backlash from traditional pharmacy giants like Walgreens and CVS.
PillPack allows consumers to receive their local pharmacy orders via online delivery, as well as automatic refills and 24/7 support.
Amazon is also pushing its own type of fitness-tracking wireless earbuds, which will track key measurements such as running pace, calories burned and distance run, similar to Fitbit (NYSE: FIT).
In September Amazon launched Amazon Care for its employees, an in-person and virtual healthcare system for its employees. The goal of this pilot scheme is to generate a solution to the traditional profit-making incentives and constraints of the traditional healthcare system in the U.S.
The company is also working alongside Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) through Haven Healthcare to offer custom health insurance plans for workers.
Google is partnered with Ascension, the second-largest healthcare system in the U.S. The goal is for Google to look at Ascension’s data from millions of patients to try to improve their treatments and cut costs using its advanced artificial intelligence technology. However, this brings into question the use of this data and how it affects the privacy of patients.
Google is also planning to acquire the popular fitness watch manufacturer Fitbit in a deal worth $2.1 billion — pending approval. Google’s efforts to date in the fitness tracking space have not been up to par in comparison to its competitors Samsung and Apple. Buying Fitbit would instantly give them a seat at this table, with smartwatch sales forecasted to reach $34 billion by 2023.
However, many people believe that Google is mainly interested in the data it gained from Fitbit’s 28 million active users. This includes sleep data, exercise patterns, information about heart rates and so on. While both Google and Fitbit have said that this data would not be misused, a lot of consumers have their doubts.
Amazon currently dominates the cloud storage space for healthcare data, with 48% of the $32 billion global market. Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform currently has a 15.5% market share, but it is focusing much of its resources on challenging Amazon’s dominance.
Microsoft is pushing through major improvements to its cloud storage services, such as implementing machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) features. This saw its share in the space grow by 60% in 2018.
It has also released numerous tools such as the Healthcare Bot which uses artificial intelligence to help improve decision-making in the healthcare space. The company has a number of partnerships in place with healthcare institutions to help improve their decision-making and to cut costs using these advanced IT systems.
Finally, Microsoft is looking to cut out a lot of the inefficiencies of the current healthcare system by connecting patient health records through the cloud, saving both time and resources.
Healthcare is now a major part of Apple’s strategy. It has even gotten involved in the research and medical device spaces.
All iPhones have a built-in Apple Health function which allows users to track their steps as well as other metrics. The Apple Watch allows users to track all sorts of different healthcare data, including sleep quality and quantity, calories burned and heart rate.
Apple is also testing out a health record system with Cleveland Clinic and Mount Sinai. The aim of this is to safely share the medical records of patients across a single medium.
It was in 2015 that Apple launched ‘ResearchKit’, allowing researchers to conduct their studies through an iPhone. After seeing its success with ‘ResearchKit’, Apple shortly after launched the ‘CareKit’. This gives institutions and people the ability to create apps that can monitor patients through the use of real-time sensors and other phone tools. This can help hospitals to engage with patients before and after they go to the hospital.
Apple is even looking into ways it can utilize facial recognition and fingerprint tracking in the iPhone to be used in the space of health monitoring and diagnosing.
MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently holds long positions in Alphabet Inc, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Read our full disclosure policy here.