Big Tech in Big Medicine

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Thanks to “these troubling times”…

There’s a new sense of urgency to both fund – and produce – breakthrough medical technology (MedTech).

Big Tech companies – like Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple – aren’t wasting any time attacking this $3T industry (that’s JUST the US market)…

And after a decade of false starts, we could be reaching the “tipping point” where regulations relax and allow for faster approval of much-needed MedTech.

But before we jump to any conclusions, let’s take a step back and look at the 30,000 foot view of the MedTech market.

Broadly speaking, we can look at the MedTech market as three major macro-categories…

#1) Digital Health – Technology used to deliver clinical health services to patients.

Ever gone to a meeting at work where you quickly thought to yourself “why did I have to waste an hour of my time for something that could have been an email?”

If so, you’ve probably had the same feeling for the majority of your doctor visit.

Because – let’s get real – no one likes being forced to go to a medical facility for something that could have been a phone call (much less a $500 “thanks for walking in” bill).

But thanks to recent circumstances…

Those visits we were always told “had to be done in person” have magically found their way into the online world. And I think we can all agree digital services are a win for everyone.

But, when you start doing things like digitizing patient info and sending it through the cloud…

You get all the data processing, storage, analytics, and cyber security issues that come with it.

So, who better than Big Tech to move that data from one end of the world to another?

Now, I’m not gonna pretend that I like the idea of Big Tech being in charge of my medical records – especially given their history with data privacy…

But there’s no denying the convenience factor that comes from it.

They’ve already got the computing power, storage space, and bandwidth to handle the data.

And if it means I never have to wait in line at a doctor’s office for routine checkups, something tells me we’ll be okay with getting our health updates from the same people that own the rest of our data.

Speaking of our medical records…

#2) Medical Devices – Technology that helps diagnose, treat, monitor, prevent, and potentially cure disease.

When it comes to medical devices, it’s useful to split this category up into two subgroups.

  • Subgroup A) Clinical devices – stuff that gets used by medical professionals

We’ve seen dozens of companies re-purpose departments – or even pivot their entire company – to help produce life saving devices.

For example, Olympus, once a global leader in the photography industry, recently announced their plans to dump it’s 84-year-old camera business.

Instead, it has decided to focus its entire efforts on remaining business units dealing with surgical equipment and medical devices.

But for the sake of today’s commentary, let’s direct our attention to…

  • Subgroup B) Retail devices – stuff that gets sold to regular people

For years, we’ve seen the rise of the so-called “wearables” market.

But like a lot of overhyped technology to come out of the Valley, we haven’t seen the kind of “disruptive use cases” we’d all hope for.

However, that doesn’t mean the implications of wearable medical technology aren’t any less exciting.

The more – and better quality – data we can consistently collect from our own bodies, could translate into opportunities for all kinds of preventative medicine.

And this point is not lost on Apple, who sees healthcare and wellness as a core part of its app, services, and wearables strategies.

Now, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV…

But as we move into the 2020’s – and hopefully into a “Post Covid” world – I’m keeping a close eye on this market.

Again, I think the issues with Big Tech will eventually come back to “do I trust these people with my data?”

But hey, I guess if I can get the Apple Experience the next time I go to the doctor’s office, maybe it’s not such a bad trade off.

It might even help lead to breakthroughs in…

#3) Regenerative Medicine – Technologies designed to do what we all want medicine to do; fix all the bad stuff that’s wrong with us at a cellular level.

The race is on to develop the “cure” for our COVID woes…

And something tells me the $1.95 billion deal between Uncle Sam and Pfizer/BioNTech for a potential vaccine won’t be the last one we see this year.

But given how expensive, how hard, and how red-tape heavy, producing medicine is…

Chances are, we’re not going to see a lot of movement from Big Tech into the drug development world.

But, that doesn’t mean they’re not trying to get a piece of the value chain…

In June 2018, Amazon acquired PillPack – an online startup that has mail-order licenses in all 50 states to provide pharmacy services and works with Medicare plans – for a reported $753 million.

And while I can only guess what Amazon’s plans are for its continued dominance of seemingly everything…

There’s no shortage of Silicon Valley billionaires trying to crack the code on aging and potentially live forever.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have pumped millions into Calico, a secretive health venture which aims to “solve death”.

Billionaire Peter Thiel – along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – are backers of Unity Biotechnology, which hopes to combat the effects of aging.

And with the major advancements we’ve seen over the past decade with gene-editing tools like CRISPR and TALEN…

Something tells me it’s only a matter of time before we see the “Titans of Big Tech” put more of their money into the “research and development” side of the MedTech ecosystem…

Because chances are, they’re going to have the best data – and computing power – to tackle some of the hardest problems in healthcare…

And that data could help develop the next generation of medicines and therapies.


Jake Hoffberg

Jake Hoffberg – Publisher

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This article is not an Equifund Crowd Funding Portal Inc communication. It is brought to you by Equifund Technologies, LLC.

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