Alexa, PERSONALLY I THINK Sick … Can Big Tech Solve the Growing Crisis in Healthcare?

Healthcare costs are higher in the U.S. than in comparable countries, but we’re sicker and die younger. There exists a large amount of room for improvement.

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It’s pretty clear, the U.S. healthcare system is looking for a significant upgrade. Spending increased 4.3 percent in 2016 to $9,024 per capita and accounted for 17.9 percent of the GDP. To provide some perspective, Switzerland, using its comprehensive and well-organized (it really is Swiss, in the end) system came in second, with individuals paying normally $6,787, or around 75 percent of what we do.

You could almost justify paying such a higher price, aside from the tragic reality our outcomes are so very bad. According to a recently available LA Times article, the U.S. life span is now shorter than 30 other countries’, we ranked 13th in medical coverage and more folks died in the U.S. from preventable diseases or complications than in 12 other high-income countries — overall, pretty grim statistics, considering that almost a fifth of our GDP and a good amount of your paychecks are likely to healthcare costs.

With such abysmal statistics, healthcare’s effect on productivity and underneath line and the tiny fact that global shelling out for healthcare is currently on course to attain a lot more than $18 trillion in 2040, it’s little wonder that Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are vying for his or her place in the often chaotic, ever-growing health marketplace.

Related: AI Is Transforming Healthcare as WE REALIZE It. Here’s a Consider the Future — and the Opportunities for Entrepreneurs.

Alexa, how do you reach the nearest Amazon clinic?

In the event you stopped reading the news headlines or switched off Alexa, Amazon recently made a few very well-publicized healthcare moves. Probably the most highly touted was its decision to partner with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to produce a new company to supply lower-cost, higher-quality healthcare because of its 840,000 employees. While seemingly small in the scope of the entire market, if successful, it might serve as a model for future years of care and potentially disrupt medical system as we realize it.

As though changing the facial skin of healthcare wasn’t enough, in June it had been reported that Amazon designed to pay $1B to obtain Pillpack and enter the growing $328B annual prescription drug market. Given Pillpack’s strong infrastructure and Amazon’s logistics capability, it’s unsurprising that simple statement sent Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid’s stock prices plummeting up to 11 percent.

These announcements can be found in addition to the task that Amazon has recently quietly been doing recent years, like the creation of 1492. Though little has been discussed it, the entity was made to help Amazon develop its presence in several lucrative healthcare markets. Specifically, it had been reported that its staff was attempting to streamline medical records management to boost access and availability for doctors and consumers. Additionally, it had been thought to also be looking at methods to improve U.S. healthcare for all those with limited usage of doctors, like the development of a fresh telemedicine platform to supply virtual consultations.

Finally, what report on Amazon will be complete without mentioning dear Alexa. The business continues to check out new methods to use Alexa’s growing AI capabilities to handle a few of the world’s most significant healthcare challenges. Initiatives include helping patients manage their diabetes and supporting initiatives to utilize it to help older people within their homes.

Related: Groupon Co-Founder’s New Healthcare Startup Raises $70 Million

AppleCare assumes a complete new meaning.

Never to be overlooked, in January 2018 Apple announced that it might be bringing personal health records to an iPhone near you…which basically means everywhere. Finally check, nearly 40 health systems had given usage of patients to see their medical records on the iPhones, a big increase from the original 12 health systems that had signed prior to the company announced in January.

This is soon accompanied by the announcement that Apple will be launching its primary care clinics, called AC Wellness , to handle the needs of its a lot more than 120,000 employees. The clinics were likely to open in the spring, plus some 40 staff have been completely hired in anticipation, including several former Stanford HEALTHCARE employees.

Obviously technology will play a big part in AC Wellness’ offerings. According to CNBC sources, it really is expected that Apple use its new clinics not merely treat its staff but to “try its growing selection of health products.” These new ventures come within an all natural progression in Apple’s years of experience using its Health app and Apple Watch. It firmly places this comparatively trusted company in an excellent position to greatly help disrupt healthcare’s growing market.

Related: Apple’s Health Tech Takes Early Lead Among Top Hospitals

Dr. Google diagnoses what’s wrong with healthcare.

It really is virtually (yes, I went there) impossible to regulate how deeply Google is mixed up in healthcare space. Through the years, Google has generated, funded and/or partnered on a number of health-related projects, with different examples of success…Google Glass, anyone? But a very important factor is clear — it really is committed to changing the continuing future of healthcare for the better.

Within this effort, in ’09 2009 it launched Google Ventures, the capital raising arm of Alphabet, Inc. The fund currently has about $2.4 billion to invest and has made investments in at least 300 companies, frequently linked to the regions of genomics, biotechnology and cell therapy. Its growing interest is most clearly evidenced by its spending. In 2012 and 2013 the fund invested only 9 percent of its capital in healthcare companies, but that number quickly jumped to 36 percent in 2014.

Google’s commitment was further demonstrated with the 2015 founding of Verily, formerly part of Google X. With an understated yet powerful mission statement “to help make the world’s health data useful in order that people enjoy healthier lives,” the business has taken on most of the world’s most significant health challenges both alone and with partners. From sensors to health platforms to precision medicine, the business is wanting to “transform just how healthcare is delivered.”

And if all that wasn’t enough, between 2013 and 2017, Alphabet filed 186 healthcare patents. So don’t be surprised that whenever you google healthcare, “Google” appears near the top of your outcomes.

Related: Google Is Thinking about YOUR WELLBEING, But Deterred by Regulations


Facebook’s entry in to the healthcare space has been possibly the most uneven and seemingly secretive of all “Big 4.” Though it really is clearly determined never to miss this opportunity, its results haven’t been positive.

Within the last few months, the business had been reported to be speaking with several major hospitals, including Stanford Medical School and American College of Cardiology, about focusing on a data-sharing agreement. The theory was to talk about anonymized data that Facebook would match against its user data to greatly help the hospitals determine which patients may be looking for special care or treatment.

Though potentially useful for patients, the project posed potential new, unwelcomed questions about Facebook’s collection and usage of user data, in the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. It never managed to get out from the planning phases.

Ahead of this, Facebook used its vast platform for healthcare projects from genomic testing to public health. It provided an app for the University of Michigan’s genetic testing program through the University of Michigan, called “Genes once and for all.” It sent medical reminders and encouragement from clinicians and peers to teens with asthma – with the participants showing marked improvement. And it helped develop patient communities around specific conditions and supported organ and blood donation programs like Social Blood.

While it’s not yet determined what the near future holds for Facebook in the healthcare space, given the public’s concern around its data privacy issues, it really is clear that the business is actively exploring opportunities and has been reported to be focusing on new initiatives in its "Building 8" experiment projects group.

The Prognosis

While that is in no way a complete set of what’s being planned and/or implemented by these ubiquitous tech giants, it’s an excellent indication of their intention and capability to change healthcare as we realize it. Undoubtedly, there are pros and cons to presenting them as intricately involved with our health because they are in other areas of our lives — only time will tell.

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen them seize and capitalize on opportunities, often creating solutions beyond our wildest dreams…and, sometimes, our greatest nightmares. Within all of this, it’s important to remember that we are discussing our health and wellness and health informati