American telecommunications giant Comcast is the latest tech company to foray in the health field. The company recently announced a partnership with Independence Health Group which aims to develop patient-centered tech and communications platform for the improvement of patient and provider care experience. The Philadelphia-based Independence is the parent company of Independence Blue Cross.
Comcast and Independence
The internet-based project intends to create a platform for patients and providers to access information about their healthcare history wherever they are. The platform will be rolled out throughout the country across different distribution channels and will be accessible with any device. It will leverage on Comcast’s national distribution and presence.
Independence also has various partnerships and investments for consumer healthcare issues. It has lead or is a member of, or has sponsored various healthcare innovation initiatives in Philadelphia, including the Independence Blue Cross Center for Health Care Innovation and Dreamit Health. It has also funded consumer empowerment solution Achieve Well-Being. For its part, Comcast has had various healthcare initiatives including Health Care Innovation Collaborative in Philadelphia. It has also collaborated with UC Davis with a healthy aging series for patient education regarding heart health, nutrition, fitness and exercise.
IT and Health Tech
Comcast follows the lead of other IT giants including Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple. Google recently announced the development of an AI tech which takes a look at the eye to determine risks of hypertension. Microsoft is also working on cancer cures. The Apple Watch is the center of Apple’s research for a wearable with multiple functions including heart monitoring, continuous blood pressure reading, and blood sugar monitoring.
Health tech has lagged in developments in recent years. There have not been as many venture capital funding, nor has there been too many health and medicine partnerships, as well as mergers and acquisitions. However, that is expected to change in the coming years, as new technology in biochemistry and applied microbiology, food technology, big data and machine learning, and AI are coming together in a confluence of technology solutions.
Amazon, on the other hand, partnered with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to develop employee healthcare solutions which are affordable for both the companies and their employees. Overall, the three companies have more than a million employees and this may be used by other companies in improving health care to their own employees.
The Apple solution follows along the same lines as Amazon. Their AC Wellness Network aims to service Apple employees and their families with “compassionate, effective healthcare.” There will be two healthcare centers, one in Santa Clara County, and the other in Cupertino near the Apple Park and Infinite Loop headquarters buildings. The aim is to provide technology-enabled “concierge-like healthcare experience.”
One reason why these companies are now providing a streamlined healthcare for their employees is to use it as a perk. Healthcare is one less thing employees have to worry about. The ACA also has problems in implementation, specifically in applying for benefits, as well as for monitoring contributions and their use. Employees are having a hard time keeping track of their benefits due to the lack of a centralized inquiry system.