From Amazon and Apple opening clinics to Uber launching a medical transit program, technology giants spent 2018 moving into the health care space. Many of these initiatives are still in very early stages, but they’ll continue to grow in 2019, and some of them may have an impact on Americans’ health care experiences as soon as this year.
The moves make sense from a financial standpoint: in any country, the health care market is one of the biggest industries there is, bringing in more than $2.8 trillion annually in the US alone. As experts point out over and over, the American health care industry is also extremely inefficient, which means there’s a lot of potential money to be made. Finally, the industry is enormous and has many sectors, giving the big companies plenty of space to maneuver without directly competing with each other… yet.
Here’s what we’ll be watching out for at the intersection of technology companies and health care in 2019.
Jeff Bezos’ company began 2018 with the announcement that it would work with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to form an independent health care company for their employees. Since then, it purchased online pharmacy startup PillPack and announced plans to sell software that will read medical records.
The health care company won’t affect consumers at large, but the PillPack acquisition and the medical records software could have big implications. How will Amazon integrate PillPack into its existing suite of services? (Will we order antidepressants using Amazon Prime?) What will that success or failure mean for the brick-and-mortar pharmacies or other pharmacy startups like Capsule?
Electronic health records are a famously fraught area of the medical system, and the tangled evolution of e-health technology has, for many patients, led to a fragmented paper trail filled with gaps. Amazon is certainly not the first company to venture into this area, so how successful will it be, and what will that mean for patients and their quality of care?
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