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Tech Giants Target Health Care: Summary of a New York Times Article

The technology giants of the world have their sights set on improving health care for doctors and patients. See what a few of these companies are up to in the highlights below from the New York Times article “How Big Tech Is Going After Your Health Care” by Natasha Singer, from Dec. 26, 2017.

Alphabet: In 2017, Alphabet [the parent company of Google] acquired Senosis Health, a developer of apps that use smartphone sensors to monitor health signals. Alphabet also owns Verily Life Sciences, a research unit that develops tools to collect and analyze health data. Verily introduced its study watch last year to collect data on heart rate, gait and skin temperature. The watch is being used in a study with 10,000 volunteers, and researchers hope to use data analytics and machine learning to get a more detailed picture of the progression of diseases such as cancer.

Amazon: Last year, Amazon invested in Grail, a cancer-detection startup that has raised more than $900 million. (Grail aims to aims to develop a blood test to detect cancer before symptoms appear.)

Apple: Apple introduced Apple ResearchKit in 2015. Stanford University researchers used ResearchKit to develop an app that enrolled more than 54,000 patients in a study and collected more data than they could have otherwise. (The first ResearchKit app to work with an Apple Watch was built by Johns Hopkins researchers to monitor seizure symptoms in people who suffer from epilepsy.) Most recently, in 2017, Apple acquired Beddit, a maker of sleep-tracking tech.

Facebook: In 2016, Facebook appealed to pharmaceutical companies for their advertising dollars by introducing a rolling scroll feature where drug makers can list side effects in an ad. Such risk disclosures are required by federal drug marketing rules.

Microsoft: In 2017, Microsoft announced an initiative called Healthcare NeXT to create products for medical providers and patients using artificial intelligence and cloud services. Working with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Microsoft developed a project that involves a virtual assistant that could take notes on a conversation between a doctor and a patient, analyze the discussion and then send a summary to the patient’s electronic medical record.  

See the New York Times article “How Big Tech Is Going After Your Health Care” by Natasha Singer from Dec. 26, 2017.

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