The First Database Of Tech Giants Collaborating With Healthcare: What Can We Learn?

We keep repeating for years that tech giants are marching into healthcare. This has become really pronounced in the past few weeks, when we hardly saw a day without a major, healthcare-related announcement from one of these companies, like Amazon’s $3.9B OneMedical acquisition, or the plans for entering the Japanese prescription drug market, but we can also mention ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok acquiring a private hospital chain for $1.5B. And it’s not only tech giants, but retail giants too, that are planning to disrupt the healthcare landscape, CVS Health just confirmed an $8B takeover of Signify Health.

So what is happening and what does it mean for the future? How will the billions and billions of dollars these companies spend on establishing positions in medicine transform the ways healthcare happens?

These collaborations – while never exactly kept in secret – are not mapped out, so it is almost impossible to form a picture if it is a growing trend or what kinds of healthcare providers the tech giants cooperate with. It is even harder to learn the actual scope of these cooperations, both companies and healthcare institutions communicate in the vaguest terms of their goals.

These were the driving question behind the latest project of our data analysts when they started mapping out how tech giants collaborate with hospitals and what it means in terms of sharing data.

What hospitals and tech giants have to offer

At the current state of affairs, tech giants and hospitals (medical establishments) both have their unique edges. 

Tech giants have vast experience in developing user-friendly technologies that actually find their way to the mainstream – an important factor as healthcare is becoming ever-more tech-focused. 

On the other hand, healthcare institutions have medical knowledge and experience, legal and regulatory expertise, not to mention a crucial element: medical data. Data is extremely important and valuable in this equation, machine learning, and deep learning algorithms, artificial intelligence can’t develop without huge amounts of quality medical data. 

This is what the current collaboration landscape looks like

We collected all collaborations we could find since 2016 that include the exchange of data to form a clear picture of what is happening in this field. To see the full-size picture, right-click on the image, and open it in a new browser tab.

The infographic includes the partners – the tech giant and the healthcare collaborator -, the scope of the cooperation, whether it is finished or ongoing (a significant majority belongs to the latter), and the country where it happens. 

Google tops the list with 12 projects, focusing on A.I. and cloud services. Microsoft has seven collaborations, but the fields are the same: artificial intelligence and cloud services. Amazon is listed with five initiatives, which seem to be the most diverse: their collaborations cover areas from voice assist services in hospitals to developing cancer vaccines, from developing a digital health ecosystem to transferring machine learning algorithms to the cloud.

What can we learn from the data? 

There are four basic conclusions at first glance.

  • The United States is the undisputed center of such collaborations. This is not surprising for the country has the most developed and financially strong tech sector, while the healthcare system is extremely expensive and inaccessible for a significant part of society. Following the 25 US-based projects come two from the European Union and one from the UK, two from India, and one from Australia and Singapore, showing huge geographical imbalances. 
  • Descriptions and publicly available information about the actual exchange of data or the purpose of the collaborations are very often vague. This is far from reassuring, a much clearer declaration of what is happening with what kinds of data would be essential. 
  • All Tech Giants are involved in at least one collaboration, and most of these focus either on A.I. (machine learning, deep learning, etc) or cloud services, although they are secretive on specific goals.
  • 2022 might be a record year in terms of such cooperative projects

These collaborations are exciting from the futuristic point of view, and we will continue to cover what tech giants do in healthcare and will follow up on these (and new) cooperations. Similarly to the steadily growing database of FDA-approved A.I.-based algorithms, the collab database will be regularly updated and we will report back at regular intervals.

On the other hand, the fact of how little there is to know about the details of these deals is an important limiting factor, only allowing speculations on what new services or products are going to grow out from these ventures.

The post The First Database Of Tech Giants Collaborating With Healthcare: What Can We Learn? appeared first on The Medical Futurist.

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