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Biotech

How Big Tech is Getting Involved in Your Health Care (bendbulletin.com) 50

Apple's financing a study to see whether irregular heart rhythms can be detected with an Apple Watch. But that's just the beginning, according to a New York Times article shared by Templer421: As consumers, medical centers and insurers increasingly embrace health-tracking apps, tech companies want a bigger share of the more than $3 trillion spent annually on health care in the United States, too... The companies are accelerating their efforts to remake health care by developing or collaborating on new tools for consumers, patients, doctors, insurers and medical researchers. And they are increasingly investing in health startups. In the first 11 months of this year, 10 of the largest tech companies in the United States were involved in health care equity deals worth $2.7 billion, up from just $277 million for all of 2012, according to data from CB Insights, a research firm that tracks venture capital and startups.

Each tech company is taking its own approach, betting that its core business strengths could ultimately improve people's health -- or at least make health care more efficient. Apple, for example, has focused on its consumer products, Microsoft on online storage and analytics services and Alphabet, Google's parent company, on data... Physicians and researchers caution that it is too soon to tell whether novel continuous-monitoring tools, like apps for watches and smartphones, will help reduce disease and prolong lives -- or just send more people to doctors for unnecessary tests. There's no shortage of hype," said Dr. Eric Topol, a digital medicine expert who directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego. "We're in the early stages of learning these tools: Who do they help? Who do they not help? Who do they provide just angst, anxiety, false positives?"

The article notes Amazon's investment in cancer-detection startup Grail, Apple's investment in the Beddit sleep monitor, and Alphabet's acquistion of Senosis Health, "a developer of apps that use smartphone sensors to monitor certain health signals."

Alphabet also has a research unit developing tools to collect health data, and it's already financed "Project Baseline," in which 10,000 volunteers have agreed to testing of their blood, mental health, and DNA, as well as monitoring of their skin temperature, heart rate, and sleep patterns.
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How Big Tech is Getting Involved in Your Health Care

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want any of these parasitic corporations sticking their greedy hands into healthcare.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      They are already there. Many doctors use Apple workstations or PC's to view online patient notes and bookings. That in turn requires networks and servers.

    • I don't want any of these parasitic corporations sticking their greedy hands into healthcare.

      The parasitic corporations are the ones that get self-serving legislation passed to consolidate their monopoly on some aspect of health care. Competitive businesses are the kinds of business we need more of.

      The tech sector can make a lot of operational improvements to the system, such as digitizing those paper records, that simply save money and aggravation without fundamentally changing the system. Why should we have to make out those goddamned paper personal record sheets every time we visit a new special

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @01:09PM (#55835033)

    As soon as an Uber for health care arises, I'm downloading the app.

    • I dunno. I think I'll wait for the first N rounds of guinea pigs to weed out the "random guy with a knife who tricked the app into thinking he's a surgeon". Keep in mind that Uber made wave primarily by disregarding regulations, including safety regulations - esp. when starting up. After all, they weren't the first rideshare program, just the first to not even pretend to follow the rules.

      • What I want to see Silicon Valley bring to healthcare is its willingness to take risks in trying new things and its contempt for legally engrained monopolies.

        • It's a general contempt for legal regulations. Some of these do make it hard to start a company. But they also help society in general function.

          Taxi regulations, for instance, help keep a shitload of taxis off the road. That does raise prices, but on the other hand it's annoying as hell when a bunch of Uber/Lyft drivers are pulling up in an unregulated fashion around a major event. They all cause massive traffic jams.

  • Core strengths (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @01:34PM (#55835159) Journal

    betting that its core business strengths could ultimately improve people's health -- or at least make health care more efficient

    For a lot of tech companies, core strengths primarily include raping customers for their data. And then apply "AI" to turn that data into "insights" that they can sell to other companies keen on raping those customers some more. Sounds like a great fit for health care.

    Maybe that's a bit cynical. But medical data is something to be particularly careful with, and a lot of these tech companies don't exactly have a great track record of respecting privacy.

    • Most medical apps I have reviewed are not "raping customers for their data." They are offering either products or tracking or suggestions on how to deal with existing medical conditions. The FDA issued clearance for 51 mobile apps in 2017 (see: www.mobihealthnews in the last week)

      I view these as incredibly helpful for people with existing medical conditions, but unfortunately, the average age on Slashdot is not the age range of the people needing help. And believe me these people really need it.

      Not one

  • A big problem, Medical tech market stinks, monopolies, no real standards that work 100%, no open source, no real interconnectivity that works well.
    They still use fax in many places its so bad.

    We got the big monopoly megacorp EPIC that uses its per user fee and dominance as a stranglehold on medical records. Not part of a network, ok, we can FAX you the information. WTF...

    The reason the US pays so much, we have too many middle men that are charging for everything rising the costs, there's no low cost open source solutions for everything, but the companies use TONS of opensource middle themselves.

    A leading cause for expensive software, government regulations have to be devloped into existing medical software. If you pass a bill, that costs is going somewhere, new revisions, some vendors own most of the market, book, expensive upgrades, end user is gonna pay for it with higher medical insurance paying for it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    TIL, Medical IT is a shitshow of closed source, over regulation and monopolies that are making everything expensive thats driving up costs.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @01:51PM (#55835251)
    ... is that it drags along Big Marketing's involvement. The Big Tech companies are not in this in order to help people, but to open up a new data collection stream, and subsequently a new revenue stream. This would be a great idea if I could trust Big tech with my health data but, as Microsoft has shown with Windows 10, Big Tech is more interested in aggressive data collection than customer privacy..
  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @02:04PM (#55835319) Homepage Journal

    I asked my dentist (who's heavily involved in medical/dental research at Tufts) about health research, and he noted that health care has a lot of diagnostic techniques that can't be used.

    He explained that the insurance companies are afraid the new diagnostics will turn up problems in people that otherwise wouldn't be found until they're too late to fix and that, actuarially speaking, it's cheaper to let the problems go on and let the patient die. Also, it's possible the patient would die from random chance before the condition is found.

    I have no idea if this is correct, but I can remember lots of "promising new" techniques and devices here on slashdot and other places over the years - yet the last new device that we actually got is the MRI.

    (And for the longest time your insurance company wouldn't pay for an MRI - even though it was in widespread use - because it was deemed "experimental".)

  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @03:09PM (#55835641)

    The average American's headlong rush to have their every step, tic, twitch, friend, activity, and Web search monitored by big corporations, is going to make it so that NOBODY can get health insurance without signing up for 24/7 monitoring of every fart, belch, heart flutter, and midnight snack. Stick a fork in Privacy's ass and turn it over, 'cause it's falling-off-the-bone done, courtesy of folks who are too stupid to have a clue of where their own TRUE self-interest resides. Fuck me gently with a chainsaw - it'd be kinder than seeing myself sold down the river by a bunch of bleating sheep masquerading as humans. Christ, even the button I'm about to click on is telling me to Submit!

  • Venture Capitalists, the "investors", don't give 1 sh!t about improving lives, they only care about making money. Case and points: The VC's the purchased the rights to the blindness gene therapy shot - $1 million for the treatment. Because, they figure they deserve a percentage of how much more you will earn by not being blind .... or the VC's that purchased the rights for the leukemia shot.. that's right a shot that cures leukemia - can be yours for $700K.. It's important to note that most people have
  • When it comes to life expectancy [wikipedia.org], Cuba is on par with US, but spending 3 time less money [wikipedia.org] for health. I am not sure the fix for US is to add more greedy mega-corporations to the system.

  • I have no interest in a connected watch product. However, should the Apple watch or a third-party watchband that connects to an Apple watch start to offer the ability to monitor my blood sugar levels 24/7 in real time ... this can't be said too strongly ... I will buy one. Period, Full Stop.

    Obviously this means that the way forward for the watch products is through Health Care. It has massive potential, actually.

  • So, when the first big company gets sued for not properly securing their patients, **ahem**, their customers' device history (and other related data), where will the finger-pointing begin and end --I'm looking at you, Fitbit, but it may as well be newer cellphones.

    I can see engineers blaming it on having to use third-party data-storage platforms... then board members claiming their company and devices are clearly not a physician or to be interpreted as one, therefore can't be liable for violating any health

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