3 Major Tech Companies Breaking Into Health Care

Jim Probasco, Benzinga Staff Writer

For years, rows of folders filled with patient medical records have been a familiar sight in doctor’s offices, hospitals and clinics. Some major tech players, however, are trying to change that scenario.

Medical professionals face a growing need to be able to quickly and safely share patient information as old “hard copy” records systems become outdated.

In addition, patients want to be more involved in their own health care with fitness devices and other ways of monitoring and maintaining general well-being as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Regulations Galore

Despite the value and revenue-enhancement potential of modernizing healthcare systems and operations in the U.S., the use of technology in the medical field comes with some major cautions.

Safeguarding data and ensuring the reliability of equipment involves compliance with complicated rules and regulations, not to mention adhering to requirements of the Affordable Care Act, Food and Drug Administration, Medicare and various other agencies.

Enter Major Tech

The tech companies best equipped to handle the maze of red tape and complicated regulations are the ones most used to dealing with privacy and compliance on the technology side and on the Internet.

Here are three large entities that have already made strides to enter what may become the “next big thing” for healthcare tech.

1) Apple

Apple (AAPL) has had its eye on the healthcare industry for some time. This became apparent when the company announced its HealthKit services as part of iOS 8. HealthKit lets developers coordinate various fitness and health-related apps.

The company was also said to be in talks with health care providers in the U.S., including Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, about making certain types of data like blood pressure, pulse and weight available for both consumers and medical professionals all in one place.

2) Google

Android is not taking a back seat to iOS in the rush to health care involvement. Google (GOOG) announced last week the roll-out of its new healthcare app development kit, designed to help software developers build a number of digital medical tools.

Google has also made headlines with news of its efforts to develop a contact lens system that would allow diabetics to monitor their glucose levels without drawing blood. Once perfected, the contact lens system would not only eliminate the inconvenience of the daily “finger prick” ritual, but would also allow for constant, non-invasive monitoring, leading to better blood sugar control, and therefore better health for the nation’s diabetics.

3) IBM

Most notable among IBM’s (IBM) attempts to enter the field of medicine and healthcare has been use of the company’s Watson supercomputer for diagnosis and evaluation of patient information.

In basic terms, Watson becomes an incredibly intelligent assistant, capable of handling massive amounts of data, offering diagnoses and suggesting treatment options for any number of illnesses, including cancer.

A recently announced partnership between IBM and Apple calls for IBM to construct a suite of platforms and apps that allow for safe handling of healthcare data between and among medical professionals, patients and electronic health care records.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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