05/10/2020

Amy Webb, a professor of strategic foresight at NYU, expects tech giants like Amazon and Apple will have a big influence on how we go to the doctor.

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND — Tech companies are coming for the healthcare industry’s lunch.
That’s according to Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist and professor of strategic foresight at New York University Stern School of Business. When Business Insider asked Webb for a prediction she expects to happen that most others don’t think will happen, her response turned to the relationship between big tech companies and healthcare. 
“Amazon, Google, and Apple completely dismantle the healthcare industry as we know it,” Webb told Business Insider on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
“From diagnostics to pharmaceuticals to the physician-patient relationship, and I would argue they’re already in the process of doing that,” Webb said. 
Read more:Tech giants like Google and Amazon are beefing up their healthcare strategies. Here’s how 7 tech titans are tackling the $3.6 trillion industry.
Tech powerhouses like Google, Amazon, and Apple are increasingly focused on expanding in US healthcare. They’ve pursued strategies like building out life sciences divisions and offering hardware like fitness trackers, and even shown some signs that they’ll get into the business of providing healthcare.
Tech companies have an advantage established healthcare players don’t when working to change how the healthcare industry operates. 
“Part of what is on their side is the regulatory issues that traditional players have to deal with don’t apply in the same way,” Webb said, referring to the regulations that protect patient data privacy within doctor’s offices and other established healthcare institutions. “We could, 20 years from now, have a completely different approach, with completely different providers.”
Read more: Verily just presented for the first time at JPMorgan’s big health conference. Here’s how the CEO of Alphabet’s life sciences firm laid out the unusual business to top investors.
Webb pointed in particular to the tools getting developed that collect information about our health, such as wearables like Fitbit, which Google is acquiring and Apple’s Watch or voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.
In the future, that information as well as other sensors and tools could be used to get a better picture of a patients’ health without them coming in to the doctor’s office. That goes beyond the initial intention of the devices. 
“What’s happening in a sort of transparent way — because this is not the primary use case for all these technologies — is our homes are being turned into clinics,” Webb said.