within the first 11 months of This kind of year, 10 of the largest tech companies within the United States were involved in health care equity deals worth $2.7 billion, up through just $277 million for all of 2012, according to data through CB Insights, a research firm which tracks venture capital as well as start-ups.
Each tech company is actually taking its own approach, betting which its core business strengths could ultimately improve people’s health — or at least make health care more efficient. Apple, for example, has focused on its consumer products, Microsoft on online storage as well as analytics services, as well as Alphabet, Google’s parent company, on data.
“The big-picture reason which a lot of these tech companies are getting into health care right now is actually because the market is actually too big, too important as well as much too personal to their users for them to ignore,” said John Prendergass, associate director of health care investment at Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia.
Physicians as well as researchers caution which which is actually too soon to tell whether novel continuous-monitoring tools, like apps for watches as well as smartphones, will help reduce disease as well as prolong lives — or just send more people to doctors for unnecessary tests.
“There’s no shortage of hype,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a digital medicine expert who directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego. “We’re within the early stages of learning these tools: Who do they help? Who do they not help? Who do they provide just angst, anxiety, false positives?”
The tech industry is actually certainly no stranger to health. IBM, Intel as well as Microsoft have long provided enterprise services to the health care industry.
however right now they, as well as some other companies, are more visibly focused on creating, or investing in, completely new kinds of technologies for doctors, patients as well as consumers.
This kind of year, Amazon was one of the investors in a financing round for Grail, a cancer-detection start-up, which raised more than $900 million. Apple acquired Beddit, a maker of sleep-tracking technology, for an undisclosed amount.
as well as Alphabet, perhaps the most active American consumer tech giant in health as well as biotech, acquired Senosis Health, a developer of apps which use smartphone sensors to monitor certain health signals, also for an undisclosed amount.
Alphabet also carries a research unit, Verily Life Sciences, dedicated to developing completely new tools to collect as well as analyze health data.
This kind of year, Verily introduced a health research device, the Verily Study Watch, with sensors which can collect data on heart rate, gait as well as skin temperature. right now, the watch is actually to be used in a research study, called Project Baseline as well as financed by Verily, to follow about 10,000 volunteers.
Participants within the Project Baseline study will also be asked to use sleep sensors in their beds, as well as to have blood, genetic as well as mental health tests. Using data analytics as well as machine learning, researchers desire to get a more detailed picture of the progression of diseases like cancer.
“We are creating devices which collect information, completely new molecular assays — as well as all of which is actually just to try to understand health at a deeper level,” said Dr. Jessica L. Mega, Verily’s chief medical officer.
Apple is actually taking a different approach — using its well-liked iPhone as well as Apple Watch to help consumers better track as well as manage their health.
“Apple is actually trying to drag medicine through where which currently takes place — in hospitals as well as clinics — as well as move which to the consumer side, to your phone,” said Malay Gandhi, an executive in residence at Greylock Partners, a venture capital firm.
In 2015, Apple introduced completely new software, called Apple ResearchKit, for health researchers. Stanford used which to develop an app to enroll volunteers in a heart study as well as track their physical activities, sleeping hours as well as fitness.
Dr. Lloyd B. Minor, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, said the app enabled researchers to smoothly enroll more than 54,000 patients — a large number for a study conducted by one medical center — as well as collect much more data than they could have otherwise.
“For us, which was an eye-opener,” he said.
Stanford is actually also conducting the Apple Heart Study. which is actually intended to determine whether an app for the Apple Watch can accurately detect irregular heart rhythms — particularly those associated with atrial fibrillation, a condition which can lead to blood clots as well as strokes.
If the app detects irregular heart rhythms, which will send participants a notification as well as offer them a free video consultation using a doctor. The study is actually not designed to assess whether people who used the watch app had a reduced incidence of stroke as well as cardiac death compared with people who did not use the app.
Microsoft, already a major supplier of software as well as cloud services to medical centers, is actually also ramping up its health business.
This kind of year, the company announced an initiative, Healthcare NeXT, to create products for medical providers as well as patients using artificial intelligence as well as cloud services like speech recognition.
As part of the effort, Microsoft worked with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to develop digital services intended to reduce drudgery for physicians as well as improve patients’ experiences. One project involves a virtual assistant which would certainly take notes on conversations between a doctor as well as a patient, analyze the conversation as well as then send a summary to the patient’s electronic medical record. The medical center is actually also pilot-testing an app which notifies doctors when one of their patients has filled a prescription at a U.P.M.C. pharmacy.
“We’re actually focusing on what people within the health care world are doing today as well as how we can make which better,” said Peter Lee, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for artificial intelligence as well as research.
Facebook, too, has been expanding its business as well as research efforts within the health sector.
Last year, Facebook made which more appealing for pharmaceutical companies to advertise their medicines on the platform by introducing a rolling scroll feature where drug makers can list their drug’s side effects in an ad. Such risk disclosures are required by federal drug marketing rules.
as well as This kind of year, Oculus, the virtual reality gear maker owned by Facebook, teamed up with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to develop V.R. simulations for doctors as well as medical students to practice handling high-risk pediatric medical emergencies.
Amazon has been less public about its plans in health. however industry analysts have speculated which Amazon could enter the pharmacy business.
Dr. Topol of Scripps said tech companies had an opportunity to remake longstanding, cumbersome systems — like hospital alarms at a patient’s bedside which go off dozens of times every day — as well as re-envision how health care is actually delivered.
“There’s not one tech company which isn’t involved one way or another,” Dr. Topol said. “Many of the companies see This kind of as somewhere between rescue as well as a great business opportunity.”
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