When David Feinberg, the head of Google Health, announced last week that he was leaving for Served as CEO of Cerner for Electronic Health RecordsMedia reports took it as an admission of Google’s defeat in its campaign to win in healthcare.
Leaked internal memo. scoop By Business Insider, it was revealed that the Google Health division had been disbanded. Parts are scattered between the different work units where they may simply hang down or close softly.
The app allows Apple employees Score fitness goals, manage high blood pressure, talk to doctors and coaches At AC Wellness, the group of doctors that Apple works with.
There was no shortage of comments on social media. Providence chief digital officer Aaron Martin quipped on LinkedIn: “If you’re a big tech and want to get out of healthcare, this is the week to do it.” For good measure, he added the hashtag #healthcareishard.
My friend and digital health entrepreneur Sherry Deauville, who Mail On LinkedIn that went viral, he summed it up like this: “If companies misunderstand evidence-based medicine, they will have no business bringing technology to medicine at all (as opposed to consumer use or administrative use).”
Glenn Tolman, digital health entrepreneur and founder of Livongo – Which merged with Teladoc in 2020 – He said this: “Big tech companies have been struggling in healthcare because patients’ problems are more about the overall experience than the technology itself.”
Dr. Nick Patel, chief digital officer at Prisma Health, wasn’t surprised that Google and Apple were holding back.
“The multi-trillion dollar healthcare industry is hard to break,” he said. “There are a lot of complex variables to solve, and the healthcare technology space is already crowded. Each is trying to solve a small part of the overall tangled mess.”
How did the big tech companies get here, and what next?
Google (Google Health) and Microsoft (Health Vault) tried to collect patients’ medical information directly from consumers and gave up after several years. Google Health closed in 2011, And Health Vault closed its doors in 2019.
Apple has made steady progress over the years, successful integration Health app with electronic health record systems for dozens of service providers across the country. It’s not clear what the failure of the Health Habit project means for Apple’s overall commitment to the healthcare sector.
And that leaves us with the obvious question: What will happen to Amazon’s healthcare efforts? Amazon recently launched Amazon Care I had problems scaling up almost from the start, with the unit head acknowledging that they would need”Thousands of employees“At a large scale. It is a counter-intuitive problem in a market where there is a widespread shortage of healthcare workers.
The commonalities between the Apple Health Habit and Amazon Care products are important. Both started as a limited primary care service offering in-house employee targeting, presumably as a precursor to opening the show to the public at some point. Both have embraced the service using partnerships: AC Wellness in the case of Apple and Care Medical in the case of Amazon.
Tech companies are used to big failures (remember the Haven Healthcare disaster?) and often use learning to come back in a different shape and form. This is what happened with Google and Amazon. Apple will undoubtedly ignore the current setback and find a different approach to the healthcare market.
The frequent setbacks of big tech companies in healthcare are worth the question: Is healthcare too difficult for tech companies? Finding the answer requires understanding the structural problems within technology companies in their approach to the healthcare market:
Healthcare is a part time job. The primary mission of all major technology companies is to sell software and hardware in many different sectors and to as many customers as possible. Healthcare is seen as a huge opportunity, and by all accounts, the big tech companies are doing quite well selling their core products in this sector. However, unlike healthcare-focused technology companies—particularly electronic health record companies—the healthcare sector receives only a portion of the CEO’s interest in the big tech companies and only a portion of the company’s overall resources.
Moreover, healthcare efforts are often scattered throughout the organization, with no coherent enterprise-wide strategy – ostensibly by design. When these tech companies try to cross Rubicon into the primary healthcare services business — to compete, in short, with their customers and displace them in a $4 trillion industry — it’s no surprise that they find themselves over their heads.
Big tech companies want to solve the health care problem themselves. Healthcare is a notoriously fragmented industry. Ironically, most tech companies add cost to unsustainable and bloated healthcare bottoms by adding redundant layers to an already cumbersome workflow for clinicians.
Nick Patel makes a counterintuitive suggestion. “If the big tech companies come to the table together at the national level to solve this problem instead of trying to get a piece of the trillion dollar pie, we might have a chance to fundamentally reduce costs and improve outcomes.”
It’s not just that tech companies are trying to act on their own. It’s the structural barriers to free data movement, data privacy considerations, healthcare providers’ unwillingness to consider patient-generated or other data that is not clinical evidence, and a host of other issues that hold back the big tech companies.
Selling technology is different from selling health care services. Technology companies that operate within the current healthcare architecture and focus on providing technology solutions have a lot of success to look forward to. In fact, many of them are. It is a different story when it comes to entering the field of healthcare services. Embracing the delivery of primary care to a few hundred employees and expanding it to 50 states are very different efforts in scale.
Healthcare consumers value their relationships with their doctors. The decades and generations of building trust that defines the hospital’s relationship with its community is missing for the big tech companies entering the healthcare services space. Use your current employer-based insurance and reimbursement model for healthcare services, and it’s clear why healthcare isn’t your traditional business. (And don’t forget that the service provider community doesn’t care much about being non-median.)
But in the long run, things are bound to change. We have already seen this in the success of the first digital and first virtual healthcare providers that have emerged as competitors. One or more of them will eventually make a breakthrough.
It may not be one of the big tech companies we know today. Here’s an idea to think about, though: Maybe Google, Apple, and Amazon will go out and buy a large, well-established health system someday soon? After all, Amazon went out and bought Whole Foods to get into the grocery business, so why not replicate that in healthcare?
Paddy Padmanaban is the author of the book The digital transformation of healthcare – How consumerism, technology, and the pandemic are accelerating the future. He is the founder and CEO of Damo Consulting.