Five tech giants driving healthcare innovation

Americans spend more on healthcare than any other developed country on the planet. Last year alone, U.S health spending reached $3.65 trillion and will continue to grow, on an average annual rate of 5.5 percent until 2027.

The stakes are high and the winnings are even higher, which is why tech giants are eager to penetrate the healthcare field by developing revolutionary devices and therapies.

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Let’s take a look at five companies leveraging emerging technologies to drive healthcare innovation  — and create major profits:

1. Comcast

Among the companies trying to get a slice of the medtech device market is telecoms giant Comcast. Earlier this year, the company announced its plan to launch an in-home health monitoring device for seniors and people with disabilities. The device will use ambient sensors to track their bathroom trips and detect falls, which have become the most common type of accidental injury among this age group.

The timing could not be better for Comcast to launch their product, as fatal falls among elders have increased substantially over the past couple of years. In 2016 alone, almost 30,000 Americans ages 65 and older died as a result of a fall.

With the help of an Amazon Alexa, Comcast’s device will be able to make emergency phone calls in the case of a health crisis. The product is expected to be released early next year. It’s not a coincidence that Comcast decided to build a remotely monitoring device.

 From health startups to big pharma players, more companies are starting to invest in medtech devices that rely on software as a medical device (SaMD) to recognize the warning signs of an emergency. What’s more, SaMD systems “can help patients better monitor their condition by identifying triggers and providing real-time recommendations on everything from drug dosages to physical activity to environmental conditions,” explains Orthogonal, a medical software company.

2. Google

Google is by far the biggest tech player in the healthcare landscape, and they are aiming to revolutionize the industry using artificial intelligence (AI).

The path to success in this ambitious dream for Google is with the help of Verily, the healthcare subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Verily is currently working on several solutions using AI, including a system that can analyze data from thousands of past surgical procedures to identify patterns and allow doctors to avoid errors to perform better surgeries.

According to Verily, this intelligent digital surgery platform called Verb Surgical, “is designed to allow for seamless integration of hardware, software, and data to assist the surgical team during the most critical moments in surgery.” The system will most likely be released in 2020.

3. Amazon

While Google is banking on AI to drive healthcare innovation, Amazon is betting on voice tech. Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, has become a great companion for seniors or bed-ridden patients, allowing them to feel more in control of their environment.

In April, the company took their healthcare investments even further. Amazon teamed up with six healthcare companies and providers to develop a new version of Alexa that allows customers to access their sensitive health information simply by talking to Alexa-enabled devices.

For instance, customers of Express Scripts, one of the six companies Amazon signed with, can now check on the status of a prescription delivery. And patients of Seattle health system, Providence St. Joseph Health, can schedule same-day appointments. Other partners building Alexa health skills include Boston Children’s Hospital, health insurer Cigna, digital health start-up, Livongo, and Atrium Health, a healthcare system with more than 40 hospitals.

What makes this initiative so unique? All six companies will be able to transmit patients’ sensitive health data via Alexa-enabled gadgets in a perfectly safe and private manner, following the HIPAA regulations. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is meant to ensure that a patient’s health information will only be available to their doctor or hospital and not shared with a third party.

4. Oracle

Oracle is making a point of building cloud applications that help health organizations reduce costs, improve overall business efficiency and increase their brand visibility. By leveraging emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, and Internet of Things (IoT), Oracle has created a number of solutions that target the unique needs of healthcare providers.

With providers, payers, and healthcare companies merging to survive in an increasingly competitive industry, there’s an increased need for highly-organized data warehouses.

This might explain the popularity behind Oracle Healthcare Foundation.

An end-to-end analytics platform, Oracle Healthcare Foundation is a unified healthcare analytics that enables healthcare providers to seemingly integrate data from disparate source systems into a single place. By automating this process, health systems are not only saving money, but also minimizing data errors and improving healthcare outcomes.

Top healthcare organizations are already using Oracle Cloud Applications.

Delta Dental of California, the largest U.S. dental carrier, selected one Oracle application to maximize employee engagement and, Mount Sinai Health System, New York City’s largest integrated delivery system, is using three Oracle applications to improve business visibility and reduce costs.

5. Apple

Last but not least, Apple has shown its commitment to disrupt the healthcare industry when it made it into the FDA’s Digital Health Software Precertification Program. The program is designed to fast-track digital health products to market.

And what better product to best showcase the company’s knack for medtech other than the Apple Watch? The smartwatch measures a patient’s heartbeat with the same accuracy as an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine and sends a notification everytime it detects an irregular heart rhythm, which is a common sign of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib, the leading cause of stroke, often goes undiagnosed. With this new technology, the Apple Watch is able to isolate heart rhythms from other noise thanks to smart sensors that detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist. This innovation can help patients avoid potentially fatal situations, and alert doctors to irregular heart beats before they become an irreversible issue.

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There’s plenty of money to be made in the healthcare industry. The big profits, however, will go towards those companies that can best integrate technology into medical devices and services.

What makes Apple’s products great is that it incorporates sophisticated tech into a simple watch. The same goes for Amazon’s voice assistant which allows patients to manage their health data by voice only. The other companies on this list are able to utilize this technology in new ways that benefit doctors and patients alike. And for the healthcare industry, this is only the beginning of a digital transformation.

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