The United States spent three and a half trillion dollars on healthcare in 2017 alone. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate that spending will continue to grow at a rate of 5.5% each year, placing the overall cost at $5.7 trillion by the year 2026.
As many Americans are already struggling to keep up with the cost of prescriptions, insurance, and even the ability to afford preventative care visits to their doctor, major corporations are seeing an opportunity to become involved. With the promise of technology shaping the way our healthcare system runs in the future, four big names are stepping out to make major changes.
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet have all recently released statements describing how they can help to transform our healthcare system and, hopefully, reduce the costs that families pay each year. Let’s review some of these promising ideas and explore how they might change your life.
Apple Expands On Wearables
One visit to Apple’s Healthcare section of their website shows the company is serious about integrating their current products into the medical landscape. While many iPhone users might already be familiar with the built-in Health app, the brand is taking the idea of managing your health remotely a few steps further.
Apple Watches can help physicians offer more accurate pharmaceutical dosages in a fast-paced hospital setting and high-quality displays on nearly all Apple products allow images and scans to be viewed with ease.
The ability for physicians to connect directly with their patients via their products is also on the horizon, and everything from apps that offer hearing aid adjustments to heart rate monitoring could be on the market any day now.
Microsoft’s Cloud And More
Since the implementation of electronic health records, the concept of storing patient data securely and remotely has been at the forefront of provider’s minds. Microsoft has marketed their own cloud-based storage program, Azure, as an easy solution for physicians. Well-versed in data storage and analytics for years, partnering with Microsoft has been an easy choice for many in the healthcare world.
Their focus on patient care also recently made major waves, as Microsoft filed a patent for a pair of eyeglasses that can monitor the wearer’s blood pressure. By blending hardware and software components, they are placing themselves in a competitive position against other big brands, as Apple has also revealed plans for a similar product.
Alphabet Offers EHR Help
Many may not know the company name, but this parent organization of Google, Waymo, and more is also leveraging their experience in crunching data to help make electronic health records a better tool for patients and providers alike.
Their goal is to extract patient information from other platforms and utilize it to aid in physician diagnosis. Ultimately, data patterns and trends that occur can be used to predict specific diseases or conditions in certain populations, and can instruct physicians to take more preventative measures in these high-risk situations.
Amazon Enters Into The Pharmacy Role
Fans of shopping on Amazon will already tell you that practically everything under the sun can be purchased from this mega-corporation, however a recent purchase of an online pharmacy PillPack has now made that statement even truer.
Rather than allowing pharmaceuticals to remain unaffordable for many due to the costs associated with pharmacy benefit managers, also referred to as the middlemen of the industry, Amazon’s goal in acquiring PillPack is to offer prescription medication and basic healthcare supplies in a direct to consumer format.
Other plans are in the works to give patients more healthcare tools in the comfort of their own home, as the company is taking steps to transform Alexa into an AI entity that can help with diagnoses.
How Will Americans Be Affected?
The idea of technology corporations playing such a major role in how we manage healthcare is certainly something to get used to, and like with any big change, there will probably be some growing pains along the way. However, the ultimate goal behind these four brands becoming more involved boils down to better patient care through the use of data, cloud, and hardware products.
Whether these tools will truly be useful can only be seen after some time has passed, but the hope is that healthcare spending will be reduced and the burden that so many Americans now face will be greatly eased. Imagine if health concerns could be prevented thanks to data analysis or you could save money on your prescriptions by ordering them online?
Ultimately, healthcare spending is projected to continue to rise to astronomical figures unless something changes, so perhaps it’s in our own best interests to embrace the role of technology in taking care of our well-being.