The presence of technology in healthcare has transformed the industry forever in the last decade. With the advent of Electronic Health Records and e-billing, there is less room for error and greater transparency for the patients. This also gives better quality of healthcare due to a clearer past medical history present before the doctor, as paper records were often misplaced by hospital and patient both. According to a study from the University of Michigan, the shift made from paper to EHR can significantly reduce costs of patient care, up to 3%. In a larger network with innumerable consumers, these savings will add up to a big amount. Alert systems can serve as life-saving reminders for patients to comply with medications and doctors’ visits.
3 D printing is a fairly nascent technology but it has already transformed the prosthetics industry by allowing to create tailor-made limbs, joints, implants, and even organs for surgeries. Robotic surgery can assist in greater precision and less invasive procedures. Perhaps the greatest presence of technology has been felt in telehealth where one can now talk to a healthcare provider remotely. With the rise of awareness about keeping healthy and the use of technology to aid that, it is no wonder that big tech giants are choosing to move into this sector to create a more streamlined experience for both the patient and their healthcare provider. An aging population, a trend of eating wholesome foods, and an increase in lifestyle-related disease, provide ample opportunity and guarantee that investing in technology for healthcare is the future.
The healthcare industry is undergoing significant change, with big tech companies entering the field and developing new solutions, which has been expedited by the pandemic. We’ve compiled a list of some major tech companies that are making ripples in the industry.
Apple is one such company that is moving into healthcare swiftly and making its presence felt. It has partnered with the Geisinger Health System to create Electronic Health Record Systems (EHR) for its patients, eliminated the need for paperwork and bulky files, intelligently applied the use of iPads for patients to access to their lab results in a way that is understandable for them. The Apple Health app comes preinstalled in every iPhone, which tracks patients’ activity, sleep, and offers mindfulness support. Combine this with their ECG feature on their smartwatch, it becomes a powerful tool that can detect atrial fibrillation, and perform Fall Detection. These features have saved numerous lives of ordinary people who would otherwise not have gone to a hospital in time. The company has encouraged developers to create more health oriented applications for their platform by providing a Health Kit, Research Kit and Care Kit which allow for building of apps that can offer patient care even beyond a doctor’s office or a laboratory.
They are using AI to assist in the diagnosis of cancer and the prognosis of patients. They have also developed a research tool to interpret skin images of patients and their medical history, then provide a list of possible skin conditions, which has helped primary care physicians make decisions of ordering biopsies or dermatology referrals. With their platform being the most used for information access, it has played an important role during the COVID pandemic to create a comprehensive database with information gathered from epidemiologists, research labs, and hospitals from around the globe. They have also begun a COVID-19 Community Mobility Report which tracks movement trends of people to grocery stores, workplaces, pharmacies, etc. to keep a check on how the population is contributing to flatten the curve. The company also provides clinically verified self-health assessments when people search for things like anxiety or postpartum depression.
With the introduction of Amazon Pharmacy, Amazon has further strengthened its position in the healthcare sector, two years after purchasing PillPack. The tech giant has in place a significant supply chain so it could easily fill prescriptions and also negotiate lower drug prices for its large consumer base, just as they disrupted the book market. Their Alexa service became HIPAA compliant in 2019, thus allowing consumers to order medications and connect to telemedicine with an assurance of privacy. It has put in place Amazon Transcribe Medical, which allows for voice commands to be transcribed automatically into medical records by physicians. Amazon has also acquired Health Navigator, a startup that assists digital health companies with tech and services.
Healthcare is rapidly changing and the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the process of online consultations even further. With more people taking charge of their health thanks to blogs and information on the internet, the demand for better and easier medical services is on the rise. The involvement of these tech companies will only grow in this sector, as we rely ever more on our devices for everything.