GAFA Entering The Healthcare Industry
Over the past 10 years Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, also referred to as GAFA have paved the way for the progressive industrialisation of healthcare. As of now they are among the main players in the fields of prevention and health education.
In the past, healthcare has strictly been reserved for health professionals as a major pillar of solidarity. However, because of the explosion of needs, paying agencies such as the GAFA have been prompted to question the limits of solidarity due to demographic challenges, technological progress and the spread of chronic diseases.
According to Jean-François Poletti, partner at Deloitte’s Health, Insurance and Mutual Health Council, “GAFAs have entered into a close relationship with individuals“.
Although healthcare initiative falls outside the scope of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. They have been tackling healthcare in different ways from funding to scientific research.
Their health ventures tend to be focused on age-related disease. Alphabet’ Life Sciences department (Verily) has partnered with numerous biotech stat-ups and pharmaceutical companies to develop everything from diabetes management tools to bioelectronic devices to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Other ventures include, large funding for palliative care start-up Aspire Health and a Google DeepMind project which determines whether machine learning can be used to analyse eye scans. In the future, Alphabet will likely have a role in setting the standard for healthcare tech innovation.
Apple have been heavily invested in developing healthcare technologies. In 2015, they launched its ResearchKit and CareKit software frameworks allowing developers to create integrated and FDA-approved health applications. Where patients could opt to make their data available to researchers, empowering patients and advancing medical research.
But it does not stop at just software. Apple has also been focusing on wearables (Iwatch), making them essential tool for its users, as it helps monitors their health and detect issues such as; atrial fibrillation, hypertension, sleep apnea, and has an 85% accuracy when detecting diabetes. Thus, having the ability to manage and improve diagnosis of chronic conditions for patients and doctors through the iOS platform.
Facebook’s social communities is uniquely suited to make digital health impacts. Through ads or social groups, clinical trial organisers and hospitals are already using Facebook to target potential patients.
Patient communities are helping people meet and share information with others with the same conditions. Third-party apps have also increased Facebook’s presence in digital health. For instance, with SocialBlood, an app that has created a social space for thousands of potential blood donors and recipients to meet and potentially donate blood or organs in a time of crisis.
Amazon have been very quiet about its plan’s on getting into healthcare for years. But in 2018 the e-commerce giant announced that they were planning to make a big splash in healthcare. Shifting its policy towards an integrated service for primary care.
In 2018, Amazon began selling prescriptions in Japan and distributing medical supplies in the U.S. In the future, it will make it easier for physicians to order prescriptions and allow patients to fill them at their convenience.
In November they launched a new service that uses machine learning to extract important data from patient records which could potential help healthcare providers and researchers cut costs, make treatment decisions and manage clinical trials.
To address the problem of access to quality health for all, the GAFA are positioning themselves by promoting digital revolution as a solution.
For healthcare, the entrance of these new non-traditional players will mean better connectivity between disparate medical practitioners and institutions which will further results in improved healthcare outcomes. Patients will be able to receive personalised medical treatment and real-time monitoring of their problems and symptoms. Therefore, in the future, healthcare will rely on cutting-edge technology and innovations which will require new skills and capabilities to transform their organisation into new realities.
David Mercier, Founder and Executive Chairman of STRAMMER comments, “The Gafa will soon be our clients. They are becoming more involved in the lives of their customers, wanting to sell them connected healthcare solutions and medical equipment”.
Their strategy is focused on empowering and interconnecting patients for their benefit by offering the idea of 24-hour assistance, where they can measure their health conditions, obtain a diagnosis or even a direct referral to specialised health professionals.