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Google, Other Tech Giants to Reshape Healthcare, PwC Report Says

April 10, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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The healthcare industry will become more consumer friendly, thanks in large part to technology giants like Google, Apple and Samsung, according to a new report from the Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC’s Health Research Institute surveyed consumers and identified a $64 billion marketplace in common health diagnostics, treatments and services that could shift from traditional healthcare avenues to new entrants. Many of those entrants are Fortune 50 companies, including seven retailers, eight technology and telecommunications companies and two automakers.

The report pointed to Google’s development of Calico, which is focused on aging and associated illnesses, as an example of its interest in healthcare. It noted how Samsung created a smartphone this year with a built-in heart rate monitor and how Apple was issued a patent for a seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor for an iPhone.

“To meet looming revenue threats, traditional healthcare companies will have to partner, innovate or can face fading away.  Meanwhile, the nimble and innovative ‘New Entrants’ can benefit from partnerships with existing healthcare organizations, which understand the complex regulatory and reimbursement landscape,” states Kelly Barnes, PwC's U.S. health industries leader. 

In the survey, more than 50 percent of respondents said they would opt for new services for a range of minor tests and procedures such as examining a rash or checking vital signs at home with smartphone device.  More than one-third would consider alternatives for more sophisticated care such as infusion therapies. 

One area of consumer health that PwC points to is price and quality transparency. They say that in three years venture capital firms have invested $400 million in start-ups targeting price transparency. One entrant in this space, Castlight Health, recently had an impressive initial public offering. More than half of the people surveyed by PwC want to shop for healthcare, similar to how you would on Amazon.com.

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