With their products and services used by millions, Apple and Amazon are already household names across the world.
However, both companies could be about to play major roles in revolutionizing healthcare as they seek to increase their respective stakes in the multibillion-dollar industry.
Introduced in 2015, the Apple Watch is the world’s most popular smartwatch. In 2020 it sold more units than the entire Swiss watch industry combined, giving the tech giant an enormous foothold in the rapidly expanding healthcare wearables market.
Aside from telling the time, the device has a multitude of uses. Apple themselves promote it as ‘the ultimate device for a healthy life’ due to its plethora of fitness and health-related functions that include heart metrics, sleep patterns, menstrual cycles, blood oxygen levels and even hand washing activities.
In conjunction with this, Apple has also developed their Health app, which collects data relating to users’ general health. It also integrates with third-party apps such as fitness, sleep, and calorie trackers to compile a wealth of consumer health data — all of which is collated voluntarily.
The ability to share this treasure trove of health-related information with medical professionals could give them an incredibly detailed picture of the health of a patient, allowing a more thorough analysis and improved, faster diagnoses and treatments.
Furthermore, by working with established healthcare providers or insurance companies, Apple’s data could help ensure clients obtain a package completely suited to their individual needs and reflect their specific healthcare requirements when balanced against their exercise, dietary and wellbeing habits.
With so much health-related information and data at its fingertips, Apple’s potential to act on its own or work with partner healthcare providers or insurers to make an impact on global health is enormous.
The company’s CEO, Tim Cook, has declared Apple’s move into healthcare as potentially their “greatest contribution to mankind.”
Meanwhile, online shopping giant Amazon has also added healthcare to its ever-expanding empire with the creation of Amazon Care.
Based on a telehealth model, clients access initial medical advice via Amazon’s dedicated video conferencing app. From here, a decision can be made to arrange a home visit by a doctor or nurse to carry out further examinations.
The service has been operating across Washington state since the start of this year and plans are in place to roll it out across America by the end of the summer.
However, Amazon’s plans do not end there as the company has also partnered with Crossover Health to establish 20 clinics. While these will initially be based in areas populated by their employees, Amazon will be looking wider afield as its health support and provision services grow.
Some had derided the move by Amazon as risky, but with its enormous wealth and consumer awareness, many believe the endeavour could well prove very successful and lucrative, especially when combined with its existing products and services.
Amazon already has a broad range of hardware with healthcare functions such as the Echo and their Halo fitness band and access to one of the largest analytics and data resources through AWS. All of which could be used together to create a powerful global healthcare strategy.
As the world comes to terms with the pandemic, healthcare has never seemed so important or relevant, and as two of the planet’s biggest companies look towards the potential financial benefits to be gained from it, we can be assured that the changes in how it is provided and who supplies it are only just beginning.
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