By Jeff Champagne, MPR Product Development
From Star Trek to Minority Report, technology predictions have often led to advances in technology.
However, in order for this new technology to move from the celluloid screen to our homes and everyday lives there needs to be a catalyst. In the case of wearable devices for health monitoring and medical applications, that catalyst is the growing cost of healthcare. This pain point for the economy is driving a collision between medical device and technology companies.
For medtech companies, consolidation will lead to a revolution of connectedness. In a market where speed is necessary and critical to success, there is no reason for medtech companies to grow their own technologies when existing technologies are readily available to purchase and integrate. Quickly developing those technologies into a marketable product is paramount in this connected space. Companies that don’t claim strength can gobble up players that do and integrate. Some examples include the recent purchase of Basis by Intel or Zephyr by Covidien.
It is no coincidence that Samsung launched a wearable phone. The company is always going to test the water with new technologies. With companies like MC10 and PsiKick enabling measurement in a much more wearable and convenient fashion, it is no wonder that science fiction is quickly converging with reality.
Speaking of convergence, what do you get when you team up a powerhouse like Apple with the Mayo Clinic and Epic Systems? You get a patient monitoring revolution and access to EHRs in a more intuitive and succinct way. This is what filling an unmet need looks like.
I was recently chatting with an APRN friend who is baffled by the hoops she must jump through to prescribe medications using a low cost EHR. The cheaper option for an EHR might be less expensive to purchase for a state-funded facility, but if the clinician must press 40 buttons to send a script, those efficiencies are quickly lost.
For those that question Apple’s ability to innovate, consider this. The company is built for speed and flush with over $150B in cash on hand, they are a dangerous adversary for companies like Medtronic, according to Stephen Oesterle, SVP for Medicine and Technology at Medtronic, Inc.
Google has enough money to be a major threat to medical device companies and while founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page recently told The Guardian newspaper that they would rather not deal with the highly regulated industry, the company is one of the only players with enough money to fail for years and still come up with the right technologies to suit consumer needs.
These are the healthcare companies of the future. They will be creating a new healthcare economy driven by data and connectedness.
Google has also recently started a biotech research company called Calico to look at longevity and health. The company will continue to innovate and build entire platforms for patient and consumer monitoring where medical device companies can’t move fast enough to develop a product or single threaded technology. It comes down to expertise, and where big data and software programming is concerned, they have it in spades. They can afford to pay the best programmers to flock to Silicon Valley, the new mecca of healthcare.
Amazon hosts the world’s largest HIPAA compliant server for patient data. With most people already familiar with the Amazon platform, why wouldn’t consumers trust Amazon to keep their electronic health records safe? Who could do it better?
The next year will certainly continue to show some interesting consolidation and M&A activity. My prediction, is that technology companies will rapidly begin to look more and more like healthcare/life science companies and not the other way around.
With large technology companies invading the medical device space like marauding Vikings, how will the next year shape up? What strategies are the most innovative companies taking to ensure their success in the connected health care space?
Stay tuned for these answers and more. Join us on July 15th to discuss the state of the connected environment and which direction it is going fast.