With the cost of healthcare constantly rising and the biggest tech companies in America looking for more ways to put their new tools to work, it was only a matter of time before Apple, Google, Microsoft and others really took serious steps into the health tech arena.
Although Apple pushed the Apple Watch out several years ago, it has only been recently that it’s been really focusing on using that tool for healthcare applications.
The entire healthcare industry may be about to change dramatically.
Watch This Space
According to reporting by The New York Times, in the first 11 months of 2017, 10 of the largest tech giants in the United States were involved in some kind of healthcare equity deal.
These totaled a whopping $2.7 billion, a huge increase over just five years ago, when the same companies invested just $277 million in the industry. These companies have managed to change and shape the world in ways no one could have imagined just a decade ago, and the fact they’re all investing in the same kind of technology, albeit from different angles, may mean the healthcare tech sector bears watching.
Doctors and researchers continue to caution that it’s unknown if more data points, like what is available from continuous-monitoring tools like heart rate monitoring watches, will be helpful or cause unnecessary anxiety and false positives. But Apple, for one, is betting big on the Apple Watch to help move more medicine from the clinic to the smartphone, giving consumers more control and doctors a deeper level of understanding.
Some Projects Already in the Works
Although a lot of the money that’s been spent this year is still being spent behind the curtain, many of the projects in process are already public knowledge.
For example, Facebook’s Oculus has teamed up with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to improve training for high-risk pediatric medical emergencies for doctors and nurses.
As another example, Google’s open medical secret this year involved a little-known department under its umbrella. Alphabet’s research unit Verily Life Sciences introduced the Verily Study Watch, a smartwatch loaded with sensors. It’s currently being employed in a study called Project Baseline that is following 10,000 volunteers with the ultimate goal of getting a better picture of disease progression. With any luck, the light this information could shine on devastating conditions like cancer will result in earlier detection and treatment.