Commentary

Big Tech: An Ounce Of Disruption

Times they are a-changing in healthcare. The system is incented to help prevent illness and maintain health for economic reasons, yet hospitals and pharma don’t make money on prevention. This necessitates a paradigm shift. Enter consumer technology giants who have infrastructures to build on, with the potential to fill many unmet needs in the health landscape. There’s endless potential to change the broken healthcare system before there’s even a diagnosis, by driving healthier behaviors with prevention. 

Making prevention intuitive 

New technologies have the power to serve up engaging consumer-friendly experiences, which will help promote health in the most general sense. And big tech is best positioned to effect this change with its collective connected-consumer technologies experience; it has lain a ubiquitous foundation.

Necessity is the mother of prevention 

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The consumer’s journey with their health begins with prevention. Building healthy routines into everyday life is critical to one’s health and also has significant economic impact. Technology has the ability to enable a better, more empathetic journey offering intuitive solutions that understand where the consumer is, and what their needs are at every point. AI allows them to understand this.

An Apple a day builds healthy routines

Apple was one of the first to disrupt prevention, with the iOS Health app. This app makes it simple to stay on top of one’s health, aggregating all health data from the iPhone, Apple Watch, and third-party apps already in use. It allows one to track and view one’s progress with four categories: activity, sleep, mindfulness, and nutrition—all in one place, addressing all needs, motivating positive behavior on a device that is already seamlessly woven into the fabric of daily lives. Apple understands that making these experiences consumer friendly with intuitive design will give people the best chance to change health behavior for good. 

It recently conducted the Apple Heart Study with Stanford University, creating an app that will notify participants of irregular heart rhythms. This app has the ability to detect early, so the patient can be treated sooner, which will help avoid complications and prevent stroke. And let’s not forget that Apple is updating its Health app with an enhanced medical records feature, available soon on your iPhone. Having accessibility to your records at any time puts you in the driver’s seat with your health. When products are conceived and designed with empathy and around customer needs, they have the greatest chance of adoption, driving engagement and resulting in sticky behavior.

Delivering preventative care

Amazon is also disrupting health on multiple fronts. It’s delivering a new kind of care to the home with an exclusive line of over-the-counter health products, making it easier and cheaper for people to get. It’s taking Alexa to the health space with a robust ecosystem of health-related skills, making Alexa a valuable health and prevention tool for consumers.

Last year, it even partnered with Merck to bring to market the Diabetes Challenge to help make navigating the life of a person with diabetes a little easier, and now it’s building features that target seniors with in-home elderly care, driving another stage of the health journey—adherence to medication. These tech experiences will deliver an unprecedented personal-friendly-kind-of-care right to the home.

A little empathy goes a long way toward prevention

And as more and more patients become the CEO of their health, they’re demanding proper treatment from the start. Tech giants enable a new kind of consumer connectivity and a new type of care. As these new technologies are being invented, they must feel the consumer, and design experiences that demonstrate real empathy, offering more than just the utility that technology provides. They must create truly caring solutions with empathy in mind at the very beginning.

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