Big Tech continues its foray into healthcare, opening up new opportunities for digital health startups | Fenwick & West Life Sciences Group


As financial markets continue to struggle, digital health companies are conserving resources, slowing hiring and monitoring their rate of burnout given the uncertainty surrounding the current economic downturn and the possibility that the economy will freeze. recession.

Despite the challenges, many digital health companies remain favorably positioned as consumers, insurers and healthcare providers continue to seek new ways to extend care beyond the walls of healthcare facilities and demand increasingly easier access to important health data.

Recent deals and partnerships, especially those involving consumer and enterprise tech giants, portend a steady increase in business for digital health companies. I will write soon about the sturdy levels of digital health M&A activity in the first half of 2022.

Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech leaders are pushing further into healthcare and may consider partnering with, funding and acquiring digital health startups to achieve their goals. And while 2022 has been a tough year for these megacap tech companies, that hasn’t stopped them from taking steps that show their healthcare ambitions are going full steam ahead:

  • Google has hired Bakul Patela former Food and Drug Administration official who led the agency’s digital initiatives, as the new senior director of global digital health strategy.
  • Microsoft has joined with data security startup BeeKeeperAI to work with its Azure cloud computing system to remove bottlenecks from the cumbersome AI research process in healthcare.
  • Apple continues to add health-related features to its smartwatch and other devices to turn wearables into clinical tools for medical research.

And these developments are taking place as the ink dries on major deals between healthcare companies and consumer and business technology leaders.

Oracle, which announced late last year that it would acquire electronic health records company Cerner for $28 billion, has officially closed the deal At the beginning of June. The acquisition propels Oracle further into healthcare, one of the fastest growing vertical industries.

The deal follows a major acquisition by Microsoft last year of text-to-speech software company Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion. Microsoft said the deal takes the company further into healthcare, where Nuance has distinguished itself as a leader. The nuance is now partnerwith the Health Management Academy to launch an AI collective for healthcare leaders using AI in healthcare settings.

Amazon opens in-person health clinics and created a new health accelerator to help startups that aim to improve health outcomes for the underserved, and says it will invest in technologies that help research, innovation, streamline supply chains and improving access to care.

Apple continues to partner with insurers, health systems, and clinical researchers to bring more health data to mobile and wearable devices. Apple is also getting more mobile apps FDA approved for medical purposes and offering development kits such as ResearchKit, HealthKit and CareKit to help doctors and other health actors develop their own applications.

The writing is on the wall: Big tech continues to digitize our healthcare system. And the involvement of companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle means more opportunities for startups.

Our friends at Rock Health did a interesting analysis recent innovations in the physical, social, community and infrastructure aspects of health care. And even if the tech giants make inroads in all of these areas, they won’t be able to create all the products or services in-house. They will need the help of startups as they compete to make healthcare more user-friendly, transparent and digital.

Digital health startups are likely to rise to the challenge. Even in a bear market and with a possible recession on the horizon, digital health companies will find plenty of opportunities to thrive and continue doing what they do best: improving the lives of healthcare providers and patients. patients.


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