The healthcare industry faces many challenges due to a growing elderly population, increased lifespans, general population growth, and a greater number of chronic conditions. The digitization of healthcare is solving some of these issues by enhancing the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care and support. Digital healthcare solutions can empower consumers to better engage and control their own health, moving healthcare services from the hospital to the home, a trend that is discussed at length in the Navigant Research report Capitalizing on the Nexus of IoT and Home Healthcare.
Amazon Leading in Health Innovations
Stakeholders across the residential value chain are recognizing the potential opportunity in the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and healthcare, as demonstrated in increased market activity over the past year. For example, Amazon, which has made significant strides in recent years with its Echo products, Alexa digital assistant, and various in-home services, has also been making significant (though somewhat secretive) investments in healthcare.
The company alluded to its plans in 2016 when CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted saying, “I think healthcare is going to be one of those industries that is elevated and made better by machine learning and artificial intelligence. And I actually think Echo and Alexa do have a role to play in that.” Since then, the company has announced a partnership with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to improve healthcare services for its US employees, partnered with Merck and Luminary Labs for the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, and piloted an Alexa skill with Libertana Home Health for elderly care.
Other Companies Are Capitalizing on This Market
Amazon is not the only tech company becoming more invested in the health services industry. Uber also recently announced its Uber Health service, which allows a range of healthcare professionals to book rides to medical facilities on their clients’ behalf.
In March 2018, Google outlined a roadmap to move the healthcare industry to the cloud, which includes its new Cloud Healthcare API to help healthcare organizations manage, analyze, and detect trends from patient data. Apple is investing in health through the rollout of its Apple Watch 3, which is enhanced with several health features like heart rhythm monitoring, which the company is also focusing on in a pilot with Stanford Medicine.
Health Emerging as a Smart Home Use Case
IoT technologies are expected to have a major impact on the healthcare industry, and are already shifting many services into the home and hands of consumers. This has created the emergence of health as a value proposition for the smart home. Significant investments from tech companies not only show the significance of this market, but also contribute to increased competition. This is a signal to other companies invested in the residential market that healthcare should weigh in as a use case when developing future roadmaps for their products and services.