Image credits: Edho Pratama on Unsplash
News Article

Tech Giants Enter the Health Industry

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 04/13/2021 - 16:19

As technology becomes more relevant in all sectors, tech giants respond with multi-sectorial solutions that reach both individuals and entire corporations. Healthcare is no exception and even before to the COVID-19 pandemic propelled the global digital transformation, tech giants were already innovating in the industry. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are some leading tech companies dabbling into healthcare and while their participation was limited at first, they have gradually grown their reach.

Amazon’s leadership in the tech sector translated to the care industry through its cloud solutions powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). “The AWS cloud plays a significant role in how this sector innovates,” said Ricardo Rentería, Sales Management Enterprise Lead of AWS, during an interview with MBN. Without AWS, there might be fewer prescription drug breakthroughs widely available, for instance. “Today, the American Heart Association is building a precision medicine platform on AWS to aggregate and analyze data that will help researchers uncover cardiovascular disease insights,” he said.

AWS currently supports AstraZeneca’s developments. “AWS is enabling scientists to identify more patients with actionable cancer types, to develop medicines faster and to treat more patients sooner,” said Rentería. AWS also has a direct impact on improvements in patient care. For instance, Qventus is using AWS for machine learning and analytics to help hospitals to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiencies in the ER, OR and pharmacies.

Meanwhile, Alphabet – Google’s parent company – is focusing on Big Data through AI for predictive analytics, precision medicine and interoperability. During Mexico Health Summit 2021, Igor Fermin, Digital Transformation Advisor of Healthcare & Life Sciences in Latin America at Google, explained that recently, the company has brought to market cloud solutions that small, medium and large businesses can benefit from. “We have other AI solutions that allow us to understand the social drivers of health to understand how the social ecosystem of a patient impacts their health,” he said. Google works hand-in-hand with experts "who understand the nuances of leading a digital transformation for healthcare providers, including doctors and researchers with deep knowledge of the sector.”

Microsoft is another company recently investing in health solutions. This week, the company announced the acquisition of Nuance Communications, a specialized AI telemedicine firm with which Microsoft had previously worked before the pandemic. The nearly US$20 billion acquisition is expected to enhance Microsoft’s cloud strategy for healthcare and complement the company’s recently launched Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, a product that records and transcribes physician-patient conversations, automatically filling out electronic medical records. According to Nuance Communications, this “was a solution for telehealth in response to the overwhelming increase in virtual visits sparked by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

Microsoft’s official website states Nuance Communications is a pioneer and a leading provider of conversational AI and cloud-based ambient clinical intelligence for healthcare providers. The latter company’s products include Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting. All these are leading clinical speech recognition SaaS solutions built on Microsoft Azure. Nuance Communications’ solutions work seamlessly with core healthcare systems, including longstanding relationships with Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to alleviate the burden of clinical documentation, empowering providers to deliver better patient experiences. Nuance Communications solutions are currently used by more than 55 percent of physicians and 75 percent of radiologists in the US, as well as 77 percent of US hospitals.

According to Eduardo Lara, Vice President and Head of Health Latin America at RGA, these cloud solutions and Big Data driven solutions give these companies the potential to enter the insurance sector. “Large tech companies collect behavioral and predictive data from their users’ preferences on a daily basis. This provides a clear panorama of what users want,” he wrote for MBN. Lara explained that this logic has driven traditional insurance to start partnering with this tech giants to use their information. In the meantime, however, tech companies are also creating solutions of their own.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst