BIG TECH IN HEALTHCARE: Here's who wins and loses as Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft hone in on niche sectors of healthcare

  • Shifting consumer demands for fast and convenient healthcare services is causing companies to increase their digital transformation efforts.
  • The Big Tech in Healthcare report from Insider Intelligence explores the key strengths and offerings the Big Four tech giants—Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft—bring to healthcare.
  • Do you work in the Healthcare industry? Get business insights on the latest tech innovations, market trends, and your competitors with data-driven research.

Healthcare organizations have to contend with the coronavirus pandemic and its lingering impacts, and shifting consumer demands for fast and convenient services. Healthcare players are being forced to move on their digital transformation efforts, and Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are lending their tech-savviness to become partners for the job.

The Big Four tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — are accelerating their pursuit of the healthcare market, and they’re starting to hone their strategies in on specific corners of the ecosystem. Below, we break down how these players are ramping up their efforts to reshape healthcare by developing and collaborating on new tools that could be a boon to consumers, medical professionals, and insurers.

Amazon Healthcare

Amazon has been aggressively infiltrating as many healthcare sectors as possible over the last few years. It’s relying on its cloud arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) and voice tech expertise to get through hospital doors, and it’s using acquisitions and large-scale partnerships to launch new healthcare projects.

Amazon is using acquisitions and large-scale partnerships to launch new healthcare projects.Insider Intelligence

How Amazon is changing healthcare

Amazon is setting up initiatives to transform pharmacy, the medical supply chain, health insurance, and care delivery. Amazon is leveraging its delivery power to carve into the medical supplies distribution space and using its massive employee base to test the telehealth waters.

Some of the top healthcare solutions and platforms offer by Amazon include:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • PillPack
  • Amazon Care
  • Alexa
  • Medical Supply Chain
  • Haven

Apple Healthcare

Apple is eager to build out its health division and live out CEO Tim Cook’s goal of having health be Apple’s ‘greatest contribution to mankind.’ Apple is striving to turn its consumer products into portable patient health hubs and valuable clinical research tools.

Apple is striving to turn its consumer products into portable patient health hubs.Matt Monath Photography for Business Insider

Each iteration of the Apple Watch has been beefed up with new health features, and it’s leaning on the iPhone’s Health Records feature to link with provider organizations looking for ways to better communicate with patients’ many points of care. 

How Apple is changing healthcare

Apple is using its popular consumer-facing products, like the Apple Watch and iPhone, to forge partnerships with payers, health systems, and clinical researchers. Apple has been boosting the number of health-related features accessible on its Watch to establish the wearable as a clinical tool to be used in medical research. 

Some of the top healthcare solutions and platforms offer by Apple include:

  • Apple Watch
  • Health Records
  • Genetic Testing

Google (Alphabet) Healthcare

Alphabet is focusing on its expertise in AI and data storage to help drive the industry-wide push for predictive analytics, precision medicine, and interoperability. Alphabet hopes to enhance consumer health and clamp down on healthcare costs.

Alphabet’s FitBit acquisition opened up new possibilities for it to enter the digital health sector.Reuters

Further, Alphabet announced its acquisition of wearable giant Fitbit for $2 billion in November 2019 — opening up a world of new possibilities for the tech titan when it comes to health-tracking and employee benefits. 

How Google (Alphabet) is changing healthcare

Alphabet is using its dominance in data storage and analytics to patch up interoperability challenges and streamline clinical research. The company is leaning on its cloud platform artificial intelligence (AI) to land strategic hospital partnerships by solving issues with electronic health record (EHR) interoperability and limited computing infrastructure. 

Some of the top healthcare solutions and platforms offer by Google include:

  • Google Fit
  • DeepMind
  • Verily
  • Calico
  • FitBit

Microsoft Healthcare

Microsoft is facing off against Alphabet and Amazon in the race to control the healthcare cloud market. Microsoft is largely staying out of the consumer-facing realm with its health play—zeroing in on Azure, and enabling providers and payers to target specific pockets of populations for better health outcomes and helping to optimize data storage.

Team collaboration on Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.Microsoft

How Microsoft is changing healthcare

Microsoft’s health play hinges on its cloud platform, Azure, and the data analytics prowess it can provide healthcare firms. These efforts stem mainly from its Healthcare NExT program, which aids in providing the company with a focused brand as it explores how its tech can be used within the healthcare setting.

Some of the top healthcare solutions and platforms offer by Microsoft include:

  • Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare
  • Healthcare NExT
  • Microsoft Genomics
  • Medical Scribe
  • Microsoft Health Bot

Future of tech in healthcare

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have been dipping their toes into the healthcare industry, and some of their endeavors have the potential to change healthcare at large.

As the Big Four move steadily onward into healthcare, it’s necessary for legacy players (hospitals, insurers, pharma companies, health IT firms) to know exactly what their strategies look like, and what they stand to lose and gain.

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  • Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are gunning to carve out spaces within the healthcare market, and each is targetting its own set of sectors to transform or disrupt. 
  • Microsoft is focused on its race with Amazon and Google to lay claim to the healthcare cloud market, Apple is knuckling down on clinical research initiatives via its wearables, Alphabet is focusing on its AI expertise to drive precision medicine, and Amazon is shaping up to disrupt the pharmacy, virtual care, and telehealth realms.
  • Their moves into healthcare are providing health systems with tech needed to patch up interoperability and data sharing gaps, giving healthcare payers a chance to collect a more comprehensive set of health data for members, and granting pharma companies the ability to streamline drug development and manufacturing. 
  • But tech giants’ forward march into healthcare is, in some cases, troubling incumbents. Amazon’s prescription delivery play has traditional pharmacies looking for ways to retain their customer bases, for instance, and Alphabet is building an ecosystem that we think could put it at odds with top dogs in the EHR industry.
  • And their inroads into the healthcare space may be stymied by consumers’ meager trust in tech companies handling their health information as well as a rampant cybersecurity crisis that could have healthcare firms holding off on tech investments. 

In full, the report: 

  • Provides an overview of Alphabet’s, Amazon’s, Apple’s, and Microsoft’s most prominent healthcare projects and plans. 
  • Highlights the persistent gaps in the US healthcare system that provide these companies and their cutting-edge technologies with entryways into the industry. 
  • Identifies the incumbent healthcare players that will benefit from and be threatened by big tech companies’ foray into healthcare. 
  • Outlines the barriers that are still in place that are stifling tech giants’ dive into the health space. 

Other companies and healthcare providers using tech in this report

AbbVie, Adidas, Aetna, Allscripts, Alphabet, Amazon, Ancestry, Apple, Ascension, Berkshire Hathaway, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bright Health, Calico, Cerner, Cleveland Clinic, Clover Health, Color, CVS, CVS Caremark, Deepmind, Devoted Health, Dexcom, Duke University Health, Eli Lilly, Emory Healthcare, Epic, Fitbit, Giant Eagle Pharmacy, Gilead Sciences, Google, GSK, Haven, Health Navigator, iRhythm, JPMorgan Chase, Mayo Clinic, Meditech, Microsoft, Moorfields Eye Hospital, New York-Presbyterian, Nike, Noom, Northwestern Medicine, Novartis, Nuance, Oasis Medical Group, Onduo, Optum, Orbita, Otsuka, Pfizer, PillPack, Premera, Providence St. Joseph Health, Quest Diagnostics, ResMed, Rite Aid, Sanofi, Seattle Children’s Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Stanford University, Suki, Summit Pacific Medical Center, Surescripts, UnitedHealthcare, UnitedHealth Group, University of California, University of Chicago, Verily Life Sciences, and Walgreens

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