20 healthcare moves from Amazon, Google, Microsoft & Apple in 2020

Big tech companies launched several partnerships last year with providers of healthcare-specific products.

 

 

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple all played a role in the pandemic response while forwarding their strategies in digital health. Here are 20 moves they made in 2020.

Amazon

1. Amazon is rumored to be making plans to expand the Amazon Care program, which launched in September 2019, to other large employers. Amazon Care was initially available to just Amazon employees in Seattle and then expanded to all Amazon employees in Washington state. The program provides telemedicine and in-person primary healthcare services.

2. On Dec. 8, Amazon Web Services launched a new service for healthcare and life sciences organizations that aggregates information into a data lake and automatically normalizes it for machine learning. AWS made its existing COVID-19 data lake available to the public to support hospitals, researchers and public health officials April 8.

3. Amazon launched an online pharmacy Nov. 17 allowing patients to purchase prescriptions online. Patients can manage insurance and prescription information through Amazon Pharmacy and Prime members receive free two-day medication delivery. Amazon also brought on pharmacists to answer patients' questions about medications via phone calls.

4. Throughout 2020, Amazon has been on a hiring spree to meet the needs of customers and clients amid the pandemic. The company also indicated plans to strengthen its healthcare bench by hiring business development leaders to take on projects that could include purchasing provider networks.

5. Amazon inked a partnership with Crossover Health, a primary care clinic chain, to pilot health clinics for employees in July. The facilities can accommodate virtual or in-person visits. The initial agreement set the wheels in motion to develop 20 employee health centers in five cities.

Read more about Amazon's moves in healthcare here.

Google

6. Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health signed a six-year partnership with Google Cloud to develop a secure and scalable platform with advanced analytic and artificial intelligence capabilities. The partnership, announced Dec. 17, is expected to create 125 IT jobs.

7. On Dec. 9, Google Health launched an app to connect individuals to clinical studies. The Android app allows users to participate in health studies by answering questions and contributing data. It already has been used in a study with Boston-based Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's to better understand respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

8. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic launched its first artificial intelligence initiative with Google in October to boost radiation therapy planning. Google then launched artificial intelligence tools for healthcare providers to search through medical documentation on Nov. 10. The tools, Google Healthcare Natural Language API and AutoML Entity Extraction for Healthcare, aim to reduce burnout and increase back-office and clinical practice productivity.

9. Google Cloud invested $100 million in telehealth company Amwell on Aug. 24. The two companies aim to use artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to automate waiting room and checkout processes as well as language translation services.

10. On April 7, Google Cloud partnered with HCA Healthcare in Nashville, Tenn., and Sada Systems to develop an open data platform to promote data-sharing on the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more about Google's moves in healthcare here.

Microsoft

11. Allscripts launched an updated EHR platform, Sunrise 20.0, which runs on Microsoft Azure. The two companies have a long-standing partnership, which they expanded in November.

12. Microsoft launched a cloud offering for healthcare organizations with digital tools for improved interoperability and data analysis on Oct. 28. The Cloud for Healthcare allows providers to connect with patients via telehealth, optimize insights and collaborate with other healthcare organizations.

13. Microsoft and Nuance partnered to integrate Nuance's ambient clinical intelligence solutions into Microsoft Teams for improved telehealth workflow. The initiative builds on an existing partnership between the companies to accelerate ambient clinical intelligence solutions.

14. In partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance and Adobe, Microsoft launched a new digital offering for personalized healthcare and shopping in June.

15. On June 18, Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine began a new five-year partnership with Microsoft Azure to strengthen its precision medicine initiative.

Read more about Microsoft's moves in healthcare here.

Apple

16. In December, Apple CEO Tom Cook was a guest on the Outside podcast podcast, where he discussed the company's healthcare strategy. He said health and wellness will be the company's biggest contribution to society. For now, Apple remains focused on the wearables and consumer health, including the atrial fibrillation and ECG functions in the Apple Watch.

"We thought it was a big idea to continuously monitor the heart. What we didn't necessarily predict was all of these cases were going to come out of it where the person told us, 'I would not have been here any longer. Do you understand? This is life-changing for me,'" he said.

17. Apple continued to roll out its Health Records app at new hospitals, including five in Canada and the UK.

18. The Apple Watch Series 6 launched in September with new healthcare-tracking and measuring capabilities. The watch has an advanced algorithm built into an app designed to measure blood oxygen levels.

19. Apple partnered with Google this spring to develop exposure notification app technology. The app detects when users are close to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. States and health systems, including University of California San Diego Health, have used the technology for contact tracing.

20. Apple partnered with Stanford (Calif.) Medicine to build an app connecting first responders in California to drive-thru COVID-19 testing locations in April.

Read more about Apple's moves in healthcare here.

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