Healthcare has been a target for big tech companies for some years now. Now that target is not only being reached, but it is changing the shape of healthcare itself.
Apple was the first company to declare that healthcare was the biggest opportunity for the company, probably in its lifetime, and the ‘usual suspects quickly followed this pronouncement.’
The benefits for the healthcare sector are dramatic. As a result of partnerships and initiatives by the tech companies, the emphasis in western economies is swinging towards a much more Asian approach to health – prevention and wellbeing.
It started, of course, with an app on your iPhone, with a heart in one corner, which most people ignored. Now, it is much, much more.
Phones, apps and wearables are now mainstream in healthcare. Many monitor your breath, your heart rate and other variables. Remote diagnostics is now a ‘thing.’ A new Google app called ‘dermatology assist’ allows patients to take pictures of skin, hair or nails and upload them for analysis. Amazon has reportedly launched a diagnostics division in the wake of a couple of less successful healthcare plays. And AI is the engine that is driving it.
Healthcare for tech companies is now huge. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application.”
At some point, we might even see that oft cited use case for 5G, remote surgery, but that is some way off.
Healthcare is also an important topic for the tech sector for another reason. It is a perfect example of how technology, once proven, becomes invisible.
In the tech world, we talk of 5G and IoT as ‘things.’ In reality, they are just variations of technology that already exists, but faster, better and cheaper. Let the technology seep into an arena like healthcare, and it ceases to be technology.
It becomes how the health sector develops.
Soon, as we have said before, terms like IoT will disappear (as the PC did before it), yet the real power and benefit of the technology will become ever clearer and beneficial, outside the realm of ‘tech speak.’
Technology is causing a seismic shift in healthcare, and this shift has obviously been catapulted forwards by the pandemic. Let us hope that the new emphasis on wellbeing and prevention remains long after the pandemic has passed.