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Major Vendors Continue Investing in Health IT Infrastructure

Google, Apple, and Amazon continue to invest in and explore health IT infrastructure tools to expand into the healthcare market.

health IT infrastructure

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Consumer and health IT infrastructure technology are blurring together as Google, Amazon, and Apple are making significant leaps into the health IT space.

Healthcare organizations are going through digital transformations and introducing more connected devices and innovative applications into their health IT infrastructures. This growth in healthcare technologies has piqued the interest of large and mostly consumer-facing vendors.

Value-based care and the demand to protect patient data are major driving factors for major vendors to get involved in healthcare IT, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report. Biopharmaceuticals, digital diagnostics machines, and connected medical devices are several of the technologies that these vendors are interested in being a part of.

"The scope for synergies among disciplines is attracting big tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and Apple to the life sciences industry,” Transformational Health Program Manager Unmesh Lal said in a statement. "The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based solutions for drug discovery and clinical trial workflow is improving the overall efficiency of production. Additionally, pathology and research laboratories are increasingly adopting health analytics solutions to track the test utilization and efficiently tackle reimbursement issues."

Over the past six months Google has made several healthcare centric announcements to help improve interoperability and medical imaging.

Late last year Google announced collaborations with several health IT vendors to give them a broader and more flexible platform for clinicians to access medical images. The move will also give increased interoperability among organizations also using the Google Cloud platform.

Change Healthcare and Dicom Systems were two healthcare IT companies working with Google to solve healthcare-specific challenges by releasing their technologies on Google’s healthcare cloud.

Google also released a healthcare specific API to help organizations address interoperability challenges. The cloud-based healthcare API may help encourage organizations that are still behind in their digital transformation.

The API simplifies healthcare data management by allowing entities to absorb and manage different types of medical data on one platform. This will give organizations faster access to the technology they need to process information.

Last month is was revealed that Google and Apple had both secured additional patents for healthcare IT infrastructure technology.

Google’s patents include several focused on its artificial intelligence (AI) technology DeepMind and its healthcare disease and research entity Verily.

Apple has filed over 50 patents that will allow the iPhone to be used as a medical device to track patient health. Microsoft’s patents include expanding on its AI technology to help monitor chronic disease.

Amazon’s health IT project known as 1492 is focused on interoperability among disparate EHR systems to make it easier for healthcare organizations to migrate to new EHR systems, as well as helping entities share data with other healthcare systems. The project aims to make EHR data more available to clinicians as well as patients.

New York Times article published in January touched on different large tech companies (i.e., Google, Apple, and Amazon) and how they are each approaching the healthcare industry from both an enterprise technology and patent-facing prospective.

“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, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all see the healthcare industry as an opportunity that is too in-demand and too lucrative to pass up.

Large tech companies have the ability to 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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