• Ariel Chen

The Tech- and Consumer-Driven Shake-Ups Create Ripple Effects Throughout the Healthcare System

Millions of Americans suddenly asked themselves "Can I solve this care need without showing up in person?" Because of this new normal/mindset, physicians are pushed to accept new healthcare technology features every when yet unready.

With an eye on clinical evidence, tech companies are starting to chart their path to include remote monitoring by transforming consumer gadgets to medical devices. For established companies like Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet, the exploding popularity of health tracking is a boon to their push to make sizable inroads into health. These companies are courting the new patient-consumer with a device-first strategy, transforming their bestselling wearables into health tools boasting medical capabilities.

Meanwhile, health tech companies like Livongo are taking a platform-driven approach, catering to patients with remote monitoring programs that connect them with health professionals and that provide useful data. For example, a person with diabetes snaps a photo of their dinner and uses an app to predict how it will impact their blood sugar. A New Yorker with hypertension texts with an Alabama health coach about data from their smart blood pressure cuffs.

Because of the tech- and consumer-driven market, clinicians are increasingly being asked to interpret the results from wearable devices provided by patients who are hesitant to come in for a visit. There is clear evidence that consumers and consumer electronics make decisions concerning health past asking a physician which device to use. Clinics are motivated by competition-creating consumers drive the creation of the best user experience.

Nevertheless, having a watch that tells you things doesn’t mean you have remote monitoring access. Platforms and integration are needed to make it happen. In order for the tools of tech giants, such as Apple, Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Amazon, to remain relevant to users’ health for the long term, said titans need to start integrating said tools with platforms that can help guide care. Health device startups, they will need to acquire patients by way of partnerships with payers, such as employers and insurance companies. Industry stalwarts, such as Philips and GE, will need to consider fundamental changes to their business structure. They must aim at better serving the patient-consumer rather than healthcare institutions, such as hospitals or clinics. Every organization in the healthcare device industry will need to figure out how to establish their devices, as a long-term component of the existing healthcare system, rather than simply a temporary or one-off solution. This is a shift we have seen and will continue to see as such technologies expand to other areas of healthcare.