News Roundup: Healthcare and Technology

Tech Disruption Edition

Lower costs, visibility into your health, and straightforward diagnoses are all needs in the healthcare industry. Can these be accomplished through technology?

Healthcare is the latest industry to be upended by technology. And for good reason—walking into a doctor’s office can feel like walking back in time 50 years. Any relevant information post-visit is often still handed out on printed out papers, follow-up communication is through email or phone, and the systems look like they got stuck in 1985 (no offense to 1985). There’s more than enough room for improvement—both in the design, functionality, and ease of use in healthcare today.

Apple is doing just that through multiple venues. In the Health app, users can now get their medical data and records through participating medical providers. The Apple Watch has the ability to save lives and contains powerful integrations with medical tools, such as glucose and blood pressure monitors. Amazon is following suit, partnering with JPMorgan Chase and others to create a non-profit healthcare company for their employees that utilizes technology to reduce costs, as well as looking at ways to sell drugs and other medical products through their marketplace. Even Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is continuing to branch out into the industry, launching its third healthcare firm, many of which use AI to get faster predictions for patients. Facebook and Microsoft are also exploring healthcare as well, looking to expand beyond just social tools and software.

This is no small feat these companies are entering into. On average, healthcare makes up about a tenth of a country’s GDP and is a multi-trillion dollar industry. Change can be difficult, as there are many considerations and roadblocks to change, specifically within the healthcare industry, i.e., regulations. While movement forward is being made, such as the FDA’s Digital Health Innovation Plan announced last year, there are still many unknowns of impacts and what regulations will be necessary. For example, in Amazon’s case, it’s important to consider that being a supplier for medical supplies is much different than being a clothes or food supplier. If a medical product is out of stock, it’s not just an inconvenience, but potentially a life and death situation for a hospital or doctor’s office.

On the user end, people’s interest and adoption is increasing when it comes to having technology monitor their health and fitness. 58% of prescription drug users have used a mobile app to fill their prescription, and the willingness to use drones and robotics for healthcare-related needs such as delivery to medication assistance ranges from 32-40%.

Technology has been the source of disruption across antiquated industries for quite a while now. It’s how Concord began—finding an area of business that is being bottlenecked by slow processes or outdated systems. Within the healthcare industry, it’s disruption in infancy, a long way from realizing the full potential of what could come. With major tech giants moving quickly, it’s only a matter of time before visiting the doctor, getting a prescription, and diagnosing illnesses looks different than ever before.