Technology titans keep spreading their power in every field possible. The latest targeted industry is the health sector. Virtual reality, preventive medicine, data collection : large firms know how to make themselves indispensable. In 2016, the top 100 Medtech companies had gathered $419 milliards in annual revenue.
Apple and Xiaomi, both large and global wearable technology leaders, are destroying everything and anyone stepping in their way. So much that Fitbit, one of the first wearable technology pioneers, is now way behind these two leaders. A lot of its projects have been dropped since, and because of, the Apple Watch’s success.
Virtual reality and artificial intelligence at the heart of hospitals
Hospitals and medical structures furnished themselves with a lot more innovative and improved technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Microsoft and Google have, of course, both taken up this issue.
Microsoft has since started developing assistance tools for hospital staff. Its virtual reality helmet already works wonders. Indeed, a woman painlessly delivered a baby thanks to meditation sessions : a two hour immersion right before giving birth and made possible thanks to the helmet, sent the patient in front of the ocean.
Alphabet (Google’s parent company) restarted in the artificial intelligence direction after Google Health’s fail in 2011. Now, its subsidiary Verily is developing many different medicals products and tools. For instance, it already developed contact lenses capable of measuring diabetic patients’ glucose levels.
These innovations still haven’t been commercialized. The general public will still have to wait some more before seeing these technologies generalized.
Apple and Amazon, or the future of preventive medicine
GAFAM’s two As (Apple and Amazon) are, without a doubt, masters in preventive medicine.
Firstly, Amazon decided to give voices to hospitals. The company tries to find applications for its vocal assistant Alexa in the medical field such as helping sick, diabetic or older people. The ultimate goal being to make Alexa the surgeons’ go-to vocal assistant.
The firm has also opened its Amazon Web Service. One of the many utilizations offered by this cloud service is health and personal data storage.
In June 2018, the e-pharmacy Pillpack’s buyout allowed Amazon to launch drugs online sales. An investment leading to strong consequences : pharmaceutical distributors’ stocks suffered a huge decline when Amazon was, on the other hand, benefiting a 2,47% increase the day following the buyout.
The Apple Watch was made for, and is dedicated to, controlling our health. The new Apple Watch Serie 4, named “guardian for your health” by Tim Cook, is going even further : this watch is able to detect falls, and alert somebody in case of unconsciousness. It can also take an electrocardiogram in 30 secondes and send the results to your doctor. In case of a weak cardiac rhythm, a health worker can also be contacted.
In 2016, Apple had already bought Gliimpse, a secured platform managing users’ medical data : a buyout obviously linked to the new Apple Watch.
“The longer people live, the more money we make”
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently approved the Apple Watch Serie 4. In other words : the new smart watch is now recognized as a full and complete medical device. Thus, the watch could now become a credible health measuring tool, in the health care field, and more particularly in the insurance field.
Atena, one of the most important American insurance companies, offered 500 000 Apple Watch to its clients in 2018. The alliance between American insurances and technology giants is already well started.
“The longer people live, the more money we make”, said Brooks Tingle, John Hancock’s (big insurance company) CEO, during an interview with the New YorkTime.
This program has an easy process : the more data you share (cholesterol level, BMI,…) and the more sporting activities you put efforts in, the more points you get.These points allow you to obtain discounts on life insurance, or you can also exchange them for…. Amazon vouchers. This process allows the insurance company to capture super healthy clients.
Using one’s own employees as testers ?
To maximize profits and effectiveness, Amazon decided to take care of its employees’ health. In other words, employees working at the Amazon’s head offices could benefit from a home-made Amazon clinic. This program should expand to other employees by 2019. By doing so, Amazon tries to reduce its employees medical fees at the maximum : with regular and continuous care and prevention treatments, employees can avoid diseases, expensive treatments and even hospitals fees. Choosing preventive medicine in order to reduce onerous costs.
In the same way, Apple takes care of its employees in the same way by installing doctors clinics close to its buildings. Tim Cook is, as he said, proud to bring a “significant contribution” to the life of his employees.
Both firms take advantage of this process to test different medical data platforms directly internally.
Data medicine, designated as the future of medicine by the technology giants, could allow us to achieve a healthier life. If only we agree to blindly give these “guardians for the health” most of our private, confidential information.