Tech Giants Are Branching Into The Medical Field

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

In early 2018, Amazon announced a partnership with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to restructure healthcare for its combined 1.2 million employees.

This partnership between juggernauts is a stepping stone for Amazon, who has many irons in the fire when it comes to healthcare.

Already, Amazon has been selling medical supplies and equipment. Using partnerships with some of the largest distributors in the U.S., they are making headway and have applied or been approved for all state-by-state licenses needed.

They have also been working on AWS, which is Amazon’s cloud business, to compete with Microsoft Azure and Alphabet’s Google Cloud to provide cloud-based solutions for medical practices and health start-ups.

Amazon’s most exciting prospect in the health field may be Alexa. Amazon’s Alexa has quickly become one of the most used, highest rated, and most reliable voice assistants out there. Amazon has started a partnership with Merck to award $125,000 to the best use of Alexa to battle diabetes.

The idea is exciting, but maybe not as exciting as hospitals experimenting with Alexa. Surgeons may use Alexa to create checklists and sharing important information with discharged patients.

We may see a day where Alexa is the tie-in to our appointments with doctors. Imagine having a digital visit set up by Alexa, using a camera to interface with your doctor, and having Alexa capable of sending your prescriptions to the pharmacy.

The possibilities are endless and Amazon knows that. They are dedicating a lot of time an effort to streamline health services – making a nice profit, but also saving money for the average consumer.

While Amazon has an interesting path and a widespread take on where it can make a difference, Apple is also making some headway.

Apple has started beta use of its health record system. Apple utilizes FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) in the health record app.

FHIR is technology being used across the country in an attempt to make interoperability and cooperation the standard in healthcare.

First discussed back in 2013, Apple has been working hard to make its own mark. In 2016, Apple acquired Gliimpse, a personal health record company. Apple has used that software, along with FHIR to build out their system.

In 2018, they added EMR data into the phone’s health record and shortly after announced their API would be available to third parties to work on applications that would tie-in with health records.

This has allowed patients to transfer their records to their phone and allows other apps to use that data as well.

Games like Pokemon Go and Oscar utilize the step tracker built in to health records. A restaurant chain called Sweetgreen logs meals ordered into the health record.

Continued use could create endless possibilities for managing our own health.

More than 120 different healthcare companies are part of the beta testing for Apple’s health record.

Much like Amazon, Apple’s ambition does not stop there. Apple also has a similar trajectory to that of Amazon. They believe in a day where there is Telemedicine, virtual appointments, and health information at your fingertips.

These two aren’t the only ones trying to get in on the healthcare game. Of course, tech giant Google is also working on being a large part of future medical developments. Tech and healthcare are both evolving and it appears like they will be on the trip together.

What Your Company Can Do To Cook Up New Ideas

Most companies recognize that innovation and creativity are vital to their survival, but they don’t know how to plan projects that will bring the quantum leaps they’re looking for.

Design specialist Heather M. A. Fraser, in her book Design Works (Rotman-UTP Publishing), describes three essentials every business needs to generate productive innovation:

Empathy
To create products or improve services, you need to understand what your customers (or even your employees) want.

They won’t always tell you; sometimes they don’t know themselves. That means you’ve got to develop your knowledge from the inside out.

Learn everything you can about their business needs, their personal goals, their failures, and their successes, regardless of whether any of those data seem to apply to your areas of expertise at first.

What you collect can lead your organization’s imagination in unexpected directions. Before the introduction of the iPod, for example, few people realized they wanted “a thousand songs in their pocket.”

Visualization
Take what you’ve learned and add it to what your organization can do.

Brainstorm as many ideas as you can, in practical terms but without limiting yourself to what’s easy or what you’ve done before. Combine ideas and concepts that don’t obviously go together, and look for ways to maximize your strengths—always with an eye on what your customers really want.

Strategy
This is where innovation can bog down unless you’re careful to select ideas that fit with your overall business objectives and strategy. Some companies pursue too many promising ideas at once, never perfecting any of them. Others design a great new product that doesn’t apply to their market and that they don’t know how to sell.

Be creative, but be rigorous in your analysis of what the market needs and what you’re capable of delivering. Then get to work.