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Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Others Boosting Healthcare IT Role

Major tech companies Google, Microsoft, and Amazon among others are seeing the value in heavily investing in the health IT space.

healthcare cloud

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The announcement made earlier this week by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce is the latest in a string of announcements and initiatives bringing tech giants into a more prominent role in health IT.

A letter released by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and signed by the six companies, pledged that they are “jointly committed to removing barriers for the adoption of technologies for healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI.”

The companies stated that they are committed to the common goal of unlocking the potential of technology in healthcare to deliver better healthcare. This initiative is driven by interoperability and knocking down data exchange barriers that have long plagued the healthcare industry.

This pledge can help healthcare organizations that already use these technology companies as part of their IT infrastructure. By putting the potential of better and more cost-effective healthcare first, these organizations can help the healthcare industry adopt infrastructure technology in a more complete way.

Over the past year, larger tech companies have expressed more interest in the healthcare industry. Healthcare is digitizing and in need of more advanced infrastructure tools to improve patient care and increase workflow among clinicians and other healthcare staff.

In the beginning of 2018, the New York Times covered the trend of tech giants in healthcare and the how they are approaching the industry.

“In the first 11 months of this year, 10 of the largest tech companies in the United States were involved in health care equity deals worth $2.7 billion, up from just $277 million for all of 2012,” the New York Times reported. The tech giants are investing in healthcare startups that are developing new tools for clinicians, patients, researchers, and insurers.

While their focuses vary, these tech companies all see the healthcare industry as an opportunity that is too in-demand and lucrative to pass up.

In June, Google and Microsoft both filed dozens of healthcare-related patents from AI solutions that will assist research organizations in going through data, to cloud-based tools that will help organizations expend their infrastructure beyond on-premises solutions. 

Amazon’s much talked about 1492 project is focused on interoperability among disparate EHR systems to make it easier for healthcare organizations to migrate to new EHR systems. It is also working to help entities share data with other healthcare systems.

The project aims to make EHR data more available to clinicians as well as patients.

These tech giants are also expected to significantly boost the healthcare cloud market. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22% through 2022 due in part to the support of large tech companies, according to a recent Research and Markets report.

“One driver influencing this market is the increasing cloud assisted medical collaborations,” report authors said. “Deploying cloud computing provides cost and infrastructure flexibility for organizations, as IT resources are required and used based on demand and requirement. One trend affecting this market is the introduction of edge computing. Edge computing is a method of optimizing cloud computing systems by performing computing applications at the logical end-point of the network instead of cloud or data centers.”

Cloud-assisted medical collaborations with large tech companies can give healthcare organizations access to tools that they have never been able to leverage before. Many of these companies are expanding their security frameworks to include HITRUST and HIPAA, appealing directly to healthcare organizations.

Large tech companies can create more tools and purchase smaller tech companies for greater development collaboration. These collaborations can create webs of connected infrastructure tools.

As these larger companies continue to expand into HIT infrastructure, organizations may have an easier time integrating new tools into their IT environments because they are already supported by the vendor they use.

Taking note of what is in development can help organizations plan their IT infrastructure improvements as they work through their digital transformation.

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