Can tech companies disrupt healthcare? Many consumers think so

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Alexander Gaffney Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US January 16, 2019

Technology companies have been trying to disrupt the US health industry for almost a decade.

In 2013, HRI found, 76 percent of the Fortune 50 were engaged in the healthcare industry; several were technology companies aiming to use their digital prowess, pragmatism and consumer savvy to develop better ways to deliver, pay for and access care.

In 2018, a slightly higher percentage of the Fortune 50 is involved with health, with about the same number of tech companies. These Technology Invaders are gaining traction.

Consumers are bullish on the Technology Invaders’ potential to improve the health system. An HRI consumer survey found that more than half were confident that technology companies could help solve some of the healthcare industry’s most pressing problems.

Recent examples

  • Amazon has quietly started selling private-label over-the-counter medical products, from hair growth formula to allergy medicine. It also started offering Medicaid recipients discounted access to its Prime subscription service.
  • Apple’s newest operating system allows users to access parts of their EHRs on their phones; the company has partnered with more than three dozen hospitals for its Apple Health Records platform.
  • Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft are launching healthcare services to shuttle patients to and from medical appointments in partnership with providers and payers.
  • Facebook even explored matching personal information that its members share with the company, such as vacation photos and lists of friends and relatives, with anonymized health information provided by partnering health systems in an attempt to find ways for each health system to better serve its patients.

The data

84% of the Fortune 50 have healthcare-related offerings
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Would you see a doctor or buy health insurance from a technology company?
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Consumers have high hopes that technology companies can improve healthcare
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HRI impact analysis

There are many ways in which technology companies may offer value to patients, employers and other parts of the healthcare system. Companies should think about which existing offerings can be scaled to healthcare and how, the regulatory hurdles they may need to clear, what part of healthcare to get into, and the capabilities they will need to compete.

While Technology Invaders have the capability to disrupt, they likely will need partnerships with existing healthcare companies to actually do so.

One example of this is Onduo, a diabetes-focused company formed as a partnership between life sciences company Sanofi S.A. and Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. Onduo CEO Josh Riff told HRI that the partnership allowed him to tap into the engineering, analytics and consumer expertise of Alphabet and the diabetes expertise and physician access of Sanofi. “Any tech company can build a diabetes product. Few tech companies can build a diabetes product knowing the history of what’s worked, what hasn’t worked,” Riff told HRI. “By combining these two companies, you really get the best of both worlds.”

Contact us

Alexander Gaffney

Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US

Benjamin Isgur

Health Research Institute Leader, PwC US

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