Tech companies have been getting into the business of health. Apple Health comes standard on iPhones tracks a user’s activity and nutrition levels. The Apple Watch does the same with more precision. Google Health tried to create a personal health record service. A 2017 report concluded that the introduction of Uber into cities reduced the use of ambulances. In January 2018, Amazon announced a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. The 3 corporate giants are teaming up to form an independent healthcare company for their 1.2 million US employees.
While healthcare is ripe for disruption, it is uncertain how these giants will navigate the complexity. No matter the outcome, tech companies—among others—are shaking up the healthcare. With the most expensive healthcare in the developed world, how might this trend benefit American consumers?

Tech companies in healthcare: potential benefits

Increased access

One thing tech companies can do is improve access to healthcare. Uber being used as an emergency vehicle is a great example. The company itself took this idea and ran with it, launching Uber Health for healthcare providers. As reported by The Verge, this tool allows doctors’ offices to book rides for their patients who need help getting to and from appointments.
Uber Health can be integrated with an office’s already existing software, allowing billing for the transportation to be seamless and part of a patient’s overall medical bill. This kind of easy transportation system can greatly help handicapped and elderly patients who have no way of getting to a doctor.
Amazon’s entrance into the market may improve access to healthcare. Imagine using Amazon Prime to order a prescription or medical device. Amazon disrupted retail, but pharma may prove trickier.

Costs reduction

The US has the highest cost of health care of all developed nations. Can the giant tech companies bring this down the way disruptive startups have?
As reported in CNBC, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) is hoping to develop cost-reduction methods in tandem with the government and healthcare insurers. One way to do this is by analyzing data to bring targeted, preventative care to those who need it. Targeted early intervention for something like diabetes, could reduce health care costs due to complications later in life.

Data analysis

One of the advantages tech companies have over traditional healthcare companies is their ability to collect and study data. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and, Amazon are extremely adept at garnering user data and developing tools and products from data.
While tech companies are just beginning to dip their toes into the healthcare pool, we can expect transformation in the industry. In just a few years, you could be asking Siri or Alexa to make your doctor appointments or using Amazon to order your medications.

By: Elena McPhillips

References: The New York Times, The Verge, Wired, CNBC, Business Insider

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