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The Big Four tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — are accelerating their pursuit of the healthcare market, and they're starting to hone their strategies in on specific corners of the ecosystem.
US healthcare players are being forced to move on their digital transformation efforts, and Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are lending their data prowess and tech-savviness to become attractive partners for the job.
Healthcare organizations have to contend with a population that's growing sicker, heightened costs, and shifting consumer demands for fast and convenient services. Further, the electronic health record (EHR) boom over the last decade has ushered in the need for organizations to revamp infrastructure and IT strategies.
The Big Four have stepped in to alleviate these issues, bridging technological gaps that give health organization partners the opportunity to realize cost savings and bolster their top lines.
These players are ramping up their efforts to reshape healthcare by developing and collaborating on new tools that could be a boon to consumers, medical professionals, and insurers.
And they're zeroing in on specific areas within healthcare: For instance, Microsoft dropped its consumer-facing wearables and health record system to narrow its focus on its cloud offerings for health systems, Apple is knuckling down on clinical research initiatives via its wearables, Alphabet is focusing on its AI expertise to drive precision medicine, and Amazon is reaching across the board — from pharmacy to medical supply delivery to telehealth. And while their health plays have presented myriad opportunities for healthcare stakeholders, some of the tech giants' initiatives are encroaching on legacy players' businesses and upsetting incumbents.
In this report, Business Insider Intelligence explores the key strengths and offerings the Big Four tech giants bring to healthcare — and how each is homing their healthcare strategy in on different corners of the market. We outline how their healthcare plays are causing a tidal change throughout the healthcare industry, examining how each player benefits and threatens healthcare incumbents. Finally, we lay out the barriers holding the Big Four back from reaching their full potential in healthcare.
The companies mentioned in this report are: AbbVie, Adidas, Aetna, Allscripts, Alphabet, Amazon, Ancestry, Apple, Ascension, Berkshire Hathaway, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bright Health, Calico, Cerner, Cleveland Clinic, Clover Health, Color, CVS, CVS Caremark, Deepmind, Devoted Health, Dexcom, Duke University Health, Eli Lilly, Emory Healthcare, Epic, Fitbit, Giant Eagle Pharmacy, Gilead Sciences, Google, GSK, Haven, Health Navigator, iRhythm, JPMorgan Chase, Mayo Clinic, Meditech, Microsoft, Moorfields Eye Hospital, New York-Presbyterian, Nike, Noom, Northwestern Medicine, Novartis, Nuance, Oasis Medical Group, Onduo, Optum, Orbita, Otsuka, Pfizer, PillPack, Premera, Providence St. Joseph Health, Quest Diagnostics, ResMed, Rite Aid, Sanofi, Seattle Children's Hospital, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Stanford University, Suki, Summit Pacific Medical Center, Surescripts, UnitedHealthcare, UnitedHealth Group, University of California, University of Chicago, Verily Life Sciences, and Walgreens.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are gunning to carve out spaces within the healthcare market, and each is targetting its own set of sectors to transform or disrupt.
- Microsoft is focused on its race with Amazon and Google to lay claim to the healthcare cloud market, Apple is knuckling down on clinical research initiatives via its wearables, Alphabet is focusing on its AI expertise to drive precision medicine, and Amazon is shaping up to disrupt the pharmacy, virtual care, and telehealth realms.
- Their moves into healthcare are providing health systems with tech needed to patch up interoperability and data sharing gaps, giving healthcare payers a chance to collect a more comprehensive set of health data for members, and granting pharma companies the ability to streamline drug development and manufacturing.
- But tech giants' forward march into healthcare is, in some cases, troubling incumbents. Amazon's prescription delivery play has traditional pharmacies looking for ways to retain their customer bases, for instance, and Alphabet is building an ecosystem that we think could put it at odds with top dogs in the EHR industry.
- And their inroads into the healthcare space may be stymied by consumers' meager trust in tech companies handling their health information as well as a rampant cybersecurity crisis that could have healthcare firms holding off on tech investments.
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