Physician viewpoint: 3 reasons big tech won't be the savior of healthcare

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Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have committed billions to health-focused initiatives, but their particular brands of innovation will not singlehandedly solve healthcare's biggest challenges.

In an op-ed for Forbes, Robert Pearl, MD, former CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, outlined three reasons why "none of [large technology companies'] recent acquisitions or consumer plays will make a substantial impact where it matters most: on the quality and cost of U.S. healthcare."

1. Consumer preferences are different than medical needs: Many of big tech's forays into healthcare have centered on direct-to-consumer devices and wearables, which are undoubtedly popular and comprise a healthy segment of consumer health spending but are backed by little medical evidence.

2. No major tech company is willing to accept medical liability: Even when these companies have taken steps to produce more medically viable devices, as with Apple's recent study of atrial fibrillation detection, they have stopped short of expanding their devices' capabilities in ways that would not only make them more useful, but would also create more legal, financial and medical liability for the companies themselves.

3. Tech companies will face major data ownership issues ahead: As evidenced by the recent "Project Nightingale" news, while HIPAA allows healthcare organizations to share patient data with industry partners, there is still an "ethical gray area" surrounding the ownership and usage of that data that has yet to be solved.

More articles on consumerism:
Christus Santa Rosa launches monthly Facebook Live physician Q&As
Health plan Brand New Day partners with CareCar for nonemergency medical transportation
How Partners HealthCare is embracing consumerism

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