We look at the advent of smart technology as a window to closer contact with patients and more efficient, secure communication among providers and various healthcare stakeholders. It also opens a door for technology companies with no history in healthcare to suddenly become major disruptors. While it’s too soon to know whether that would be a good or bad thing for patients, there’s no question it makes some cogs in the supply chain nervous. If new data from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) are any indication, we’ll find out sooner than later. As recently as 2008, only 17% of physicians used an electronic health record system; today 87% do. Smartphone use among consumers has risen even more dramatically; in 2008 only 11% of people in the U.S. had a smartphone, compared with 79% today. Where companies like Amazon and Apple lack experience in patient care, they have been expert in helping users get quick access to whatever they need. They haven’t been shy about exploiting that in healthcare lately, either. We told you back in February about Amazon’s partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to create an independent healthcare company exclusively for their own employees. Even before that, Amazon moved to provide basic health information from the Mayo Clinic through its Alexa device. The company has made no secret of the fact that it aims to make Alexa a portal to all manner of health and disease management information—which, if successful, could mean less reliance on clinicians.
Smart Technology Allows Tech Firms to Jump into Healthcare—for Better or Worse(?)