By Shane Devereux
Apple and Amazon are setting themselves up to become major players in disrupting healthcare in 2018. With Apple’s recent announcement of uniting patients with their healthcare data, and Amazon’s alliance with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan to form an independent healthcare company, both corporations are poised to take a leap into the changing foray of American healthcare.
There’s an App for That Now:
Apple have long been a suspected player in changing healthcare, but the way in which they would play was not fully ascertainable until recently. Apple debuted a new feature aptly titled ‘Health Records,’ whereby individuals can now take control of their own medical records. Health Record is based on the interoperability standard FHIR and collects encrypted medical data on allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures, and vitals. Already submitting medical records are big-name hospitals such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Dignity Health, Geisinger, and Medstar Health, with EMR agents Cerner, Epic, and athenahealth confirming participation in the project.
Apple have significantly added to the landscape by empowering customers, or now patients rather, adding to patient-centricity and fulfilling one quarter of the Quadruple Aim. This new development aids population health by increasing patient engagement and accessibility to their health records, with the key aspect in doing so not outside their normal activity flow. It may also make it easier for health system staff to focus on an accessible patient portal, freeing up internal IT delays. Although too early to determine the drawbacks, it may be interesting to note that Health Records has no integration into the clinical workflow.
Amazon Moves in on the Market:
Spending on healthcare makes up a staggering $3.3 trillion, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and game-changing e-commerce giant Amazon has also been set on making changes to the way in which it views healthcare; by tackling these rising costs and the general dysfunctionality of the healthcare market for its employees.
Amazon’s recent announcement to form an independent healthcare company will offer healthcare services to their employees at a lower cost. However, there’s no real determining what this may mean externally in the future. The industry is fast changing, blurring between traditional and conventional areas. CVS Health’s deal to buy the health insurer Aetna for about $69 billion is just one example of how the structure of healthcare delivery is altering.
Although Amazon’s deal is only set to serve their employees, the future of this could expand, and may have a profound impact in disrupting the healthcare landscape.
What Pharma Can Expect:
It is still early to determine how exactly these major developments will affect the pharma industry, and Amazon has kept quiet on any plans to enter the drug distribution market. However, it’s safe to say that patient expectations surrounding technology services, at least, will continue to grow. With new (and very fierce) competition in the marketplace, pharma companies will be compelled to develop higher caliber tech-based tools to help patients manage their own health, on par with those of Apple and Amazon.
Both tech titans are poised to take hold of the conundrum of healthcare delivery–optimizing both costs and patient-centricity–but it remains to be seen how vast these impacts will reach.