Covid has accelerated the adoption of technology in healthcare, especially wearable medical devices. And it prompted tech giants to debut in the healthcare sphere.
The real winners of the Covid crisis, as we know, are tech and healthcare. But what matters to investors is to know that the race of these two sectors is not going to stop, if anything, to intertwine, going so far as to sometimes take opposite directions. Anthony Ginsberg, co-creator of Han-Gins Indxx Healthcare Innovation Ucits Etf (WELL), is convinced of this, pointing out that the pandemic has fostered, on the one hand, a rapid adoption of technologies by the health sector and, on the other, a growing interest on the part of the tech giants in health services.
In particular, the area of health is making increasing use of technology remotely and the adoption of new technologies is happening much faster than expected. “With large groups of the population forced home, telemedicine and health through digital have become much more significant during the period of the pandemic – underlines the expert -. But perhaps the technology best known to non-professionals is that of devices that monitor activities, also called trackers, which represent the largest slice of the wearable medical device market”.
Driving demand in this segment is on the one hand the growing adoption of sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles favored by the lockdown that is leading doctors to prescribe the use of self-monitoring trackers, on the other the possibility of significant savings. “As public and private hospitals go through a transformation, reducing family visits to the hospital through trackers and telemedicine is increasingly seen as a way to improve public health response,” Ginsberg continues. After Covid, many governments and private health systems are also adopting remote medical services and supporting those who innovate in this field. And pharmacies, as a distribution channel, are at the forefront of supporting the wearables market, giving them increasing space.
“That view so far, however, is only one side of the coin- warns the expert -. If healthcare systems are approaching and equipping themselves with new technologies, large tech companies have not been watching. The big names in the sector are increasingly moving towards innovation in health, for example with monitoring trackers”.
In addition to Google, which bought Fitbit for more than two billion dollars, Amazon launched its own smart wristband in late August that also wants to compete with the Apple Watch. It is called Amazon Halo, it has no display so as not to distract from its activities but, like a guardian angel, monitors thanks to artificial intelligence sleep, physical activity, tone of voice and more collecting data and then, thanks to collaborations with specialized partners on each area, “reads” them and interprets them to return a faithful photograph of habits and be able to report any improvements. All this is made possible by subscription to the services included for the first months and then for a fee. “We expect these products to spread and, in addition to wrist devices, there will be those integrated into the clothes. Amazon’s leadership position in the cloud is already perfectly matched by ‘wearables’ technology,” Ginsberg points out.
And the foray of tech giants into the health sphere doesn’t end there. Also on Amazon, the bezoz-founded giant is seriously affecting U.S. healthcare by already running an online pharmacy and Amazon Care, as well as a joint venture with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway for their respective employees. Amazon Care is an online service available to those who have signed a health insurance policy with Amazon and are resident in Washington State. It is ‘open’ every day, in the form of a virtual chat or video consultation to which, for the moment, home visits and prescriptions for drugs are added only for those living in the Greater Seattle area. The doctors and nurses who work there belong to an independent medical practice based in Washington State. The service offers assistance in case of symptoms from diseases such as allergies, flu, small traumas, STD (sexually transmitted diseases) or Covid, but the advice also concerns sleep disorders and stress. Amazon Care also allows you to perform routine exams or vaccinations.
“What we are looking at are therefore two opposite movements concerning the relationship between technology and health. On the one hand, we see that the healthcare sector is moving towards adopting technologies to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of its resources (made even scarcer by the pandemic, in terms of human capital), on the other hand, large technology companies are finding new and unexplored land of conquest in the healthcare sector”, concludes Ginsberg.
The original Italian article can be found here