- Google, Microsoft, and Apple continue their efforts to break into the HIT infrastructure industry as they see value in securing patents for healthcare-oriented technology.
Kalorama Information reported that about 84 percent of US hospitals have adopted basic EHR systems, indicating that it’s a lucrative vertical for major vendors to get into. Google, Apple, Microsoft have filed over 300 healthcare related patents between 2013 and 2017.
"The EMR efforts have moved hospitals from paper to digital records," said Bruce Carlson, whose Kalorama Information has covered electronic medical records since 2007. "The next step is for tech giants to glean the data and improve upon that infrastructure. We'll be talking about EHR in different ways in the next ten years."
Google’s patents include many 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.
Microsoft also has other healthcare projects in the works including:
- Microsoft Genomics – Microsoft's Azure provides researchers and clinicians with highly accelerated, cloud-powered genomic processing services
- Microsoft Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint: HIPAA/HITRUST – Health Data & AI – Microsoft's availability of an end-to-end application development foundation to help health organizations move to the cloud efficiently and safely.
- Microsoft's Intelligent Network – Microsoft is expanding its Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare, now AI Network for Healthcare, to create an AI-focused network in cardiology.
- Microsoft 365 Huddle Solution Templates- Microsoft's solution so that health teams can benefit from collaboration tools to drive quality and care outcomes.
- Project InnerEye – This will feature new integration with TeraRecon and Intuitive Surgical
- Project Empower MD – This is a research collaboration that will create a system that listens and learns what doctors say and do in situations.
A New York Times article published in January touched on different large tech companies (i.e., Google, Apple, and Microsoft) 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.
Not to be excluded, Amazon has also thrown its hat in the ring with its work on an EHR solution.
No official details have been released, but the secret Amazon 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. 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.
1492 first came to light last July and is also rumored to be developing a telemedicine platform and healthcare related uses for Amazon’s current technology, with healthcare applications for Amazon Echo and Dash Wand.
These big tech companies see the value in building healthcare technology and it will be more common for organizations to have technology from these companies in their health IT infrastructure.
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.