Healthcare Data and Technology Market Sector Overview
Healthcare data and technology have engulfed each other; healthcare is incredibly data driven as medical professionals, healthcare provider organizations, clinical researchers and payers including managed care organizations, health insurance companies and government programs demand more performance from digital assets. Data technology companies are continually seeking new ways to apply their existing assets or develop new ones to generate more revenue and healthcare is an ideal industry for them to target.
This is a sample list of specialized apps, data management and software categories spanning healthcare; new ones emerge daily:
- Billing ( Patient and Vendor )
- GPO, Vendor and Payer Contract Management
- Customer Relationship Management ( CRM )
- Electronic Health Records ( EHR ) / Electronic Medical Records ( EMR )
- Health Economics Outcomes Research ( HEOR )
- Internet of Things (IoT) / Internet of Health Things (IoHT)
- Inventory Management Logistics and Supply Chain Logistics
- Medical and Pharmacy Claims Processing
- Medication Management and Formulary Compliance
- Outcomes Evaluation / Population Health Analytics
- Patient Care Quality Level Scores
- Procedure / Product / Service P&L Modeling
- Risk Management and Actuarial Analytics
- Social Media Monitoring / Listening
The digital health marketplace continues to grow. More companies are entering the space; numerous consulting firms are developing and marketing their own proprietary software and data analytics services. Advanced reporting and measurement tools are used for ever larger amounts of data and complex queries. In addition to healthcare clinical and financial informatics; imaging, simulation, Internet of Things (IoT) / Internet of Health Things (IoHT) and other applications are growing in sophistication and variation.
Artificial Intelligence Is The Pivotal Driver In Multiple Aspects Of Healthcare Data
Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) is taking healthcare by storm. AI has numerous attributes that sharpen accuracy, accelerate analytics and optimize data flows in stride which can be applied across many of the applications listed above plus many more. AI orchestrates the use of advanced algorithms, formulas and equations to artificially mirror cognitive-based human decision and actions to manipulate and manage data at a rate thousands of times faster than other options.
There are certain mission-critical uses of AI which can save lives and reduce costs by greatly shortening the amount of time needed to comb through data to arrive at decisions sooner. It has the capability to look across and deep down within historical and present day data to align patient types, diagnoses, therapeutic selections, procedure selection and other treatment protocols and processes to evaluate previous outcomes and align optimum elements for greater success moving forward. These are just some of the applications and elements AI can be a decisive difference maker:
- Population Health Big Data ( patient types, symptoms, co-morbidities, diagnoses, treatment paths, protocols, clinical and economic outcomes )
- Diagnostics ( complex processes, compiling, interpretation, modeling)
- Oncology ( clinical analytics, imaging, radiology )
- Retrospective Drug Utilization Review ( RDUR )
- Pharmaceutical ( research & development, patient data analytics, clinical trial design, molecular modeling )
- EHR / EMR ( real-time data retrieval and compiling, historical data analytics, optimized data management )
There is controversy AI will replace the "human factor" of clinicians caring for patients. What this translates to is clinicians will have higher quality data sooner to clarify unknowns and be better equipped to choose the best treatment options especially when it concerns time sensitive decisions regarding challenging patients, diseases and other issues. It also better positions clinicians for future cases with insights based on the most current analysis of millions of patient data elements that new patient outcomes modeling can be based on.
A New Healthcare Data and Software Perspective From Alphabet, Amazon And Apple
Alphabet, Amazon and Apple have each entered the healthcare sector with organically developed plus acquired products and services.
- Alphabet and its healthcare unit, Verily, continue to arm themselves with medical and data savvy staff leadership additions plus further committed themselves to healthcare with acquiring Fitbit among other health-focused deals.
- Amazon has entered into an advanced healthcare data analytics collaboration with University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Carnegie Mellon ( the two universities and the hospital are already aligned as the "Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance" or "PHDA"). Amazon fortified their Comprehend healthcare data franchise with the launch of Transcribe Medical; a one-two punch of not only interpreting digital data records ( Comprehend Medical ) plus the ability to interpret clinical conversation between doctors and patients with automatic voice recognition ( AVR through Transcribe Medical ).
- Not to be outdone, Apple recently hired two cardiologists to step up the capabilities of its consumer products while making three strategically selective acquisitions: Tueo Health ( childhood asthma sleep monitoring ), Glimpse ( medical records ) and Beddit ( sleep sensors ) over the last two years.
All 3 of these of these companies originated well outside of the healthcare industry and in 2019 deployed their deep data intellect and technology resources to plunge full force into healthcare. As non-traditional technology organizations, they bring a new dimension of clinical and commercial potential and competition into the sector --with much more sure to follow in 2020 and into the future.
IBM and Iqvia Catalysts In Healthcare Data Capability Ramp Up
IBM and IMS Health (now known as "Iqvia" ) were on a similar path with acquisition and partnership binges in the healthcare sector involving EHR platforms, telemedicine and other applications. IBM and IMS Health have been expanding their offerings through organic product development and purchased assets. Through a portfolio approach, they are becoming "one stop shop" healthcare data resources for multiple entities in the industry. This enables them to deepen their expertise within healthcare and fortify relationships a wider array of heavyweight customer segments including global pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers; this is how it unfolded:
- In early May, '16 IMS Health extended an offer to acquire Quintiles for $9.2 billion. The new $23 billion combined entity is comprised of 50,000 employees with exceptional healthcare data capabilities in commercial, clinical, regulatory and compliance applications.
- IBM bought Merge Healthcare in 2015 to fortify its Watson healthcare platform capabilities. IBM paid about $1 billion for Merge, an advanced medical imaging enterprise, and continue to purchase or partner with other technology companies to deepen their capabilities in multiple healthcare segments.
Are The Competitive Positions Of Long-Established Leaders In Healthcare Data Vulnerable?
The entrance of "non clinical" companies like Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, IBM and Microsoft into healthcare is an interesting development from a competitive and innovation perspective. These companies are deeply rooted in analytics and data technology with further expertise in hardware / devices, software and information sharing. Their drive into healthcare, an industry which is becoming more data dependent each day, will undoubtedly transform patient care and create substantial advancements in life sciences.
Conversely, there are numerous organizations with decades of experience in healthcare and data analytics which could be outdistanced ( or perhaps competitively threatened? ) by the new generation of data giants setting up shop in medically-related segments. These companies include Abbott, Baxter, Becton Dickinson, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Roche, Siemens, Thermo Fisher Scientific and others. The sectors these companies operate in and up to now have dominated span laboratory instrumentation, patient monitoring, diagnostics, imaging, clinical analytics plus other data driven disciplines and technologies, These segments hold great promise for the newcomers to deploy their rich data intellect and resources in.
May this signal the beginning of a pivotal change in the competitive balance whereas pure healthcare companies become reliant on big data abilities and software designs of contemporary technology companies to drive the functions of their equipment, devices, services, analytics, digital processes and reporting? They have two choices. Collaborate with the new, non-traditional technology firms through vendor / customer or partnership arrangements or drive advanced innovation initiatives to develop proprietary technology solutions that are self-sufficient -a tough position in an era of ever advancing data technology, information sharing, standardization and cloud computing.
Interoperability and IoT At Point-Of-Care
In healthcare, IoT / IoHT is an integration of medical equipment, IT hardware and the digital space forming a productive network of connectivity in the healthcare sector. It is found in multiple settings including point-of-care, administration, pharmacy, supply chain and other medically-focused environments. IoT / IOHT converts data into actionable information, reporting and analytical formats while connecting medical devices, tracking systems, clinicians, patients and other stakeholders. There is a large scale movement in the industry to integrate this high degree of functionality as it has proven to improve quality of care, consumer / patient satisfaction, operational efficiencies and overall outcomes. While investment in this technology creates a spike in expenses, its long term use provides high clinical / economic performance which can reduce costs.
As the various stakeholders within the healthcare provider organization spectrum continue to consolidate through acquisitions and mergers, their business models expand; data integration and management is an ongoing challenge. EHR / EMR patient data platforms, patient billing, accounting, materials management and supply chain and other departments have to accounted for to reduce costs, streamline data workflows and increase data accuracy.
Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturer Perspective
Pharma / device manufacturers, clinicians, healthcare administrators, researchers, benefit consultants, managed care professionals and others are seeking robust and easy to use programs providing wide utility and deep analytics. There is a wide array of applications available for them to choose from and many of them are highly specialized. Users are challenged about which ones are best for their particular use and need to account for them in budget, IT management, utility and longevity considerations.
Besides executing deep analytics, the usability, reporting and sharing aspects of the results are increasingly important; more queries are easily initiated via dashboards whenever possible. Reporting and data summary attributes are important features. As results are often exchanged between multiple stakeholders in and outside of an organization; the data must be well organized, maintained in familiar format and easily explained, clearly exhibited in discussions. The data generated is expected to be based on proven models through consistent analytical methods/business rules.
For radiology, ultrasound, MRI, x-ray, imaging and simulations, visual representations are richer than ever; showing depth, variation and detail and supported with statistical reporting that can be shared between clinicians and compiled / analyzed for better insights and ongoing research. At point-of-care, scale and definition are paramount to arrive at quick and accurate diagnosis and patient monitoring. It supports the needs of clinicians who are practicing advanced medicine for complex patient care issues.
IT and Data Security, Patient Information Privacy
Cybersecurity and protection of healthcare information systems from theft of or damage to hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of services they provide, is a paramount concern. More than ever, based on increased dependency on data, Internet access / use, wireless networks, smartphones or wireless medical devices, security is an issue in healthcare. The advent of hackers using ransomware to cripple or hijack data access unless payment is made further complicates issues.
Owing to complexity in terms of patient care impact, privacy, finances, criminality, technology and politics, cybersecurity is a growing juggernaut of concern as well as technical and monetary investment throughout the healthcare sector. Organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ( CISA ) and National Institute of Standards and Technology ( NIST ) are leading the charge in healthcare, education, government as well as the commercial business communities to advance information technology security nationwide.