A few months after Apple CEO Tim Cook launched
the Apple Heart Study, the FDA cleared the first medical device accessory for the Apple
Watch, Alivecor’s Kardiaband. It’s a sensor that is able to detect abnormal
heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation. A few weeks later: It was a nice morning show headline — a
tech gadget saving a man’s life. But all signs show that it’s only the beginning
of a new trend and tech giants like Google, Amazon or Apple are going to assume a more
active role in healthcare. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Healthcare is a 3 trillion-dollar pie in the
US alone and these companies want a slice too. Each of these companies are pouring money
into medical projects and use their unique strengths to make health care more efficient. Apple focuses on its consumer products by
bringing health records to iPhones, turning the Apple Watch into a medical-monitoring
device, and they try establish an industry-wide standard for health-data storage. It’s only a matter of time until they turn
Siri into a medical chatbot that lets you know if something is wrong. In the meantime, Amazon is building on its
logistics and distribution know-how to sell prescription drugs and medical supplies online. US consumers might one day find themselves
logging in to Amazon Healthcare Prime and from there, it’s only a few steps until
Jeff Bezos opens an Amazon hospital. Google, as a pioneer in A.I. research, bet
on the analysis of big data. For example, some of the same algorithms we
use on their browser each day fuels their effort to mine and analyze medical records
to make diagnostics more efficient. If any of these ventures can succeed, they
can radically change medicine. And in this battle for our healthcare, no
matter the outcome, we consumers and physicians can only win. But it’s also our responsibility to embrace
digital health technologies. And, some day, perhaps they can save your
life too.