Is healthcare too difficult for large technology companies?

When David Feinberg, the head of Google Health, announced last week that he was going to Served as CEO of Cerner, an EHR company, The media reported that this was Google’s admission of defeat in the health care field.

A leaked internal memo, scoop Business Insider revealed that Google’s health department is being dissolved. These parts are scattered in different business units, and they may just limp around or quietly shut down.

Google is not the only one making news.other article In the same week, Business Insider revealed that Apple admitted that this was “Retract” A key project, an application called Health Habit.

The app allows Apple employees Record fitness goals, manage high blood pressure, and talk to clinicians and coaches At AC Wellness, the team of doctors Apple works with.

There is no shortage of comments on social media. Providence’s chief digital officer, Aaron Martin, quipped on LinkedIn: “If you’re a large technology company and want to exit the healthcare industry, you should do it this week.” To better measure, he Added the #healthcareishard tag.

My friend and digital health entrepreneur Sherri Douville, postal Go viral on LinkedIn, summarized as follows: “If companies misunderstand evidence-based medicine, they have no business to introduce technology into medicine (as opposed to consumer or administrative use).”

Glenn Tullman, digital health entrepreneur and founder of Livongo – Merger with Teladoc in 2020 – There is a saying: “Large technology companies are struggling in the healthcare sector because patients’ problems are more about the overall experience rather than the technology itself.”

Dr. Nick Patel, the chief digital officer of Prisma Health, is not surprised by Google and Apple’s downsizing.

“The trillion-dollar healthcare industry is a difficult problem to crack,” he said. “There are too many complex variables to solve, and the medical technology field is too crowded. Everyone is trying to solve a small part of the entire mess.”

How did Big Tech get here and what will happen next?

Google (Google Health) and Microsoft (Health Vault) tried to aggregate patient medical information directly from consumers, but gave up after a few years. Google Health closed in 2011, with Health Vault closed in 2019.

Over the years, Apple has been steadily advancing, Successful integration Its Health app is used in conjunction with the EHR systems of dozens of suppliers across the country. It is not clear what the failure of the Healthy Habits project means for Apple’s overall commitment to the healthcare industry.

So this leaves us with an obvious question: What will happen to Amazon’s healthcare work? Amazon recently launched Amazon Care Almost from the beginning, the expansion problem was encountered, and the head of the unit admitted that they needed “Thousands of employees“Expanding scale. This is not a small problem in a market where there is a general shortage of medical workers.

The similarities between Apple’s Health Habit products and Amazon Care products are important. Both were initially limited primary care services for internal employees, presumably a precursor to opening the service to the public at some point. Both have incubated the service through a partnership: Apple’s AC Wellness and Amazon’s Care Medical.

Technology companies are accustomed to large-scale failures (remember the collapse of Haven Healthcare?), and often use what they have learned to return in different forms and forms. This is what happened to Google and Amazon. Apple will undoubtedly put aside the current setbacks and find a different approach for the healthcare market.

The repeated setbacks of large technology companies in the healthcare sector raise the question: Is healthcare too difficult for technology companies? Finding the answer requires understanding the structural issues that exist in the way technology companies enter the healthcare market:

Healthcare is a part-time job. The core mission of all large technology companies is to sell software and hardware to as many customers as possible in as many different fields as possible. Healthcare is seen as a huge opportunity, and it is well known that large technology companies are doing well in selling their core products in this industry. However, unlike technology companies that focus on healthcare—especially EHR companies—the healthcare industry is only part of the CEO’s attention among large technology companies, and only part of the entire company’s resources. In addition, healthcare work is usually scattered throughout the organization, and there is no cohesive enterprise-level strategy—on the surface deliberate. When these technology companies try to cross the Rubicon into the core medical services business—in short, compete with their customers and replace them in a $4 trillion industry—they find themselves at a loss. Not surprising.

Large technology companies want to solve health care problems themselves. Healthcare is a well-known fragmented industry. Paradoxically, most technology companies have increased the cost of unsustainable and inflated healthcare bottom-line by adding redundant layers to the already heavy clinician workflow. Nick Patel made a counterintuitive suggestion. “If major technology companies work together to solve this problem at the national level, instead of trying to get a piece of the trillion-dollar cake, then maybe we will have the opportunity to radically reduce costs and improve results.” Go it alone. Structural barriers to the free movement of data, data privacy considerations, lack of willingness by healthcare providers to consider patient-generated data or other data that is not considered clinical evidence, and many other issues that hinder large technology companies.

Selling technology is different from selling healthcare services. Technology companies that work in the current healthcare structure and focus on providing technical solutions have many successes to look forward to—in fact, many are. When entering the field of healthcare services, the situation is different. Incubating primary care services for hundreds of employees and expanding them to 50 states is an effort of a completely different magnitude. Healthcare consumers value their relationship with doctors. For large technology companies entering the field of healthcare services, the decades and generations of trust building that define the relationship between hospitals and their communities are missing. Considering the current employer-based healthcare service insurance and reimbursement model, it is clear why healthcare is not your traditional B2C business (don’t forget that the provider community has little interest in disintermediation.)

However, in the long run, the situation will definitely change. We have seen this in the success of digital-first and virtual-first healthcare providers as challengers. One or more of them will eventually break through.

It may not be one of the large technology companies we know today. However, here is an idea worth pondering: Maybe Google, Apple, and Amazon will soon go out and buy a large, mature medical system? After all, Amazon went out and bought Whole Foods to enter the grocery industry, so why not repeat the same mistakes in the healthcare sector?

Paddy Padmanabhan is Digital transformation of healthcare-how consumerism, technology and epidemics will accelerate future development. He is the founder and CEO of Dharma Consulting.



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