Major tech companies have been luring the healthcare market for some years now by investing in startups, creating new ventures and collaborating with leading research centers to spur innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t put a stop to this trend.
On the contrary, as the healthcare industry has had to quickly adapt to the new reality, the digitization of the ecosystem has been boosted consequently. AI, big data, IoT and medical devices represent a branch of choice for tech giants. Let’s get a closer look at the Big Four’s strategy to play a leading role in healthcare innovation.


Healthcare data represent a third of global data

One of the reasons that initially sparked the tech companies’ interest in the healthcare industry is the amount of data generated every year. Indeed, with the deployment of IoT medical devices, not only the volume but also the type of health data is increasing exponentially each year, opening the door to many business opportunities.
It is estimated that the healthcare industry represents one third of the global data, generating over 2,000 exabytes (1 exabyte = 10,002 terabytes) of data in 2020.


The Big Four are leveraging their own business strengths

Each of the Big Four tech companies, namely Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – aka GAFA – are capitalizing on their business strengths to lead market innovation.

Google (Alphabet Inc.) disrupted the augmented reality market with Google glass that was used to livestream a surgical procedure for the first time in 2013.
Since then, the tech giant builds upon its business knowledge in machine learning and data to foster innovation. With the recent acquisition of FitBit, Google is definitely stepping further into healthcare.
Google aims to “increase the availability and accuracy of healthcare globally” with a dedicated team of nearly 600, gathered under the name Google Health.

Apple sees potential in reinventing healthcare like the iPhone did to the mobile industry. Leveraging its strength in consumer-facing goods, Apple has positioned the Apple Watch as a fully fledged medical device. Every year, the device is upgraded with new health-related features and the company uses it to build strong partnerships with leading medtech companies. A recent example is the “Mymobility platform” developed with Zimmer Biomet.
As Apple CEO Tim Cook put it in 2019, improving people’s health would be one of Apple’s “greatest contributions to mankind”.

According to experts, Facebook is pushing more quietly into healthcare. In 2014, Facebook got a foot in the virtual reality door when it acquired the VR headset company Oculus. Though the company’s focus is on gaming, the solution has also been used for the training of future surgeons. Since then, the social networking company has been investing massively in VR and augmented reality, dedicating nearly one fifth of its total global workforce to this field.
The F of GAFA is now planning to launch its own smartwatch next year, jumping into the juicy game of wearable devices, so far dominated by Apple and Google.

Despite Amazon’s fairly recent health ambitions, they haven’t gone unnoticed. Amazon has made an interesting move into improving access to healthcare with the launch of Amazon Care. This service’s purpose is to provide immediate access to high-quality medical care and advice, either through telehealth and virtual care or in-person care. First tested with its own employees, Amazon care will soon be made available to other companies across the U.S. Thanks to its AI capability, the online retailer giant aspires to stand out in healthcare.

It is evidently clear that the big tech companies are now taking the battle to the healthcare arena. This is good news to all market players, experts and candidates. To continue to innovate and get the lion’s share of the market, the top tech companies will seek new partnerships, top-notch employees and bright ideas.