Opportunities Grow for High-Tech in Healthcare

If you've been following the US government's efforts to modernize the nation's healthcare information technology infrastructure, you might have noticed that current trends promise to create a flood of new opportunities for high-tech companies.

Last week a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) seemed to confirm the point. The study noted that the booming healthcare market is expected to account for nearly one-fifth of US GDP by 2019. Further, PwC researchers found that consumers are willing to spend more than $13 billion of their own money per year for non-traditional healthcare products and services. These would include $4 billion on health-related video games, $8.9 billion on resources that rate physicians and hospitals, and $700 million on mobile health applications, according to PwC.

IDC Health Insights released another study last month that examined telecommunications providers' engagement in tele-health activities, noting that 2010 appeared to be a tipping point in their go-to-market strategies. According to IDC, the total addressable market for telecom providers in home tele-health in the US will grow to 60.3 million households in 2015.

Tele-health, which uses telecommunications technologies to transmit medical information over long distances, is a growing business that relies on applications such as videoconferencing capabilities, patient monitoring devices, and the increasing use of smartphones and tablets that allow physicians simpler and faster access to medical information.

The trend has encouraged telecom companies to jump into the market. Last November, AT&T launched AT&T ForHealth, a practice area devoted to delivering wireless, networked, and cloud-based solutions specifically for the healthcare industry.

Also last year Verizon unveiled the Verizon Health Information Exchange, a cloud-based service that consolidates clinical patient data and makes it available over the Internet.

As the healthcare sector moves from paper-based systems to digitized medical records, tech companies are focused on managing the growing volume of medical data that is being computerized, largely thanks to the federal government's injection of $19.2 billion to support the expanded adoption of health information technology. An additional $27 billion is also being disbursed under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' EHR Incentive Programs, which reimburse eligible hospitals and physicians that successfully adopt electronic health records and can show that they are using the technology to improve the quality of care.

In 2010, healthcare providers spent $88.6 billion on developing and implementing electronic health records, health information exchanges, and other health information technology initiatives, according to PwC. These huge budgets, along with expanded US investment in medical electronics and information, has spurred high-tech companies into action. For example, Dell is helping hospitals manage their datacenters and implement EHRs, and has recently struck a deal with Microsoft to provide a cloud computing offering to healthcare customers.

Last month, IBM expanded its Health Analytics Solution Center to incorporate some of the same analytical tools used in IBM's Watson supercomputer as a way to provide solutions for healthcare.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the Medical Electronic Device Realization Center (MEDRC) in May. MIT, in collaboration with Analog Devices and GE Global Research, will develop technologies aimed at improving patient-monitoring devices, point-of-care instruments, communication technology, and ultrasound imaging equipment.

In the meantime, more opportunities to provide cloud computing, storage technology, mobile devices, and wireless and networking capabilities are envisioned further down the road. According to PwC:

    The 10-year implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will bring similar waves of opportunities as it changes the business models of insurers, providers, and pharmaceutical companies. That in turn opens further opportunities: for all kinds of service and product companies. For example, the government is attempting to redesign the health system through outcomes-based payments, health insurance exchanges, comparative effectiveness research, medical homes, and accountable care organizations.

High-tech companies looking for additional revenue streams may well find healthcare IT to be the cure for what ails them.

15 comments on “Opportunities Grow for High-Tech in Healthcare

  1. Nemos
    June 14, 2011

    “consumers are willing to spend more than $13 billion of their own money per year for non-traditional healthcare products and services.”

    When you say “non-traditional healthcare” what do you mean?

    Consumers are the citizens or the healthcare sector?

    Sorry for those questions but I am confused because we have a different insurance system in Europe.

  2. The Source
    June 14, 2011


    One example of non-traditional healthcare is the area of mobile health.  Basically, a patient's vital signs are captured and the data is uploaded and transmitted over long distances using wireless networks.  A case in point is WellDoc's DiabetesManager System which supports medication adherence and provides for the capture, storage, and real-time transmission of blood glucose data and other diabetes self-management information by utilizing mobile phones and the Internet.

    AirStrip Technologies has developed a platform which allows patient information, such as waveforms and other critical data from electronic health records, bedside monitors and devices, and other clinical information systems to be accessed by physicians and nurses on their smart phones or tablets. 

    Thanks for reading my article, and I hope this helps.


  3. Daniel
    June 15, 2011

    Health care is always a hot topic in industry, because the world population is growing and everybody is much concerned about health. I think health care section is the one and only area where recessions are not affecting. Application of IT in health care can make much of the manual diagnostic methods automated.  EMR and telemedicine are the other key areas of IT applications. In both these two, seamless connectivity is very important.

    In an imaginative way, I would like to prefer tele+video medicine, where I can talk to doctor face to face and application through my smart phone, which can detect my pulse like the functionality of stethoscope. My video or still camera in mobile phone can perform like a video scope, which is transmitted over to doctor’s PC for further diagnostic. Hope such technology will be in place by tomorrow or another day.

  4. mfbertozzi
    June 15, 2011

    I personally trust Jacob's thoughts: healthcare seems not impacted by crisis and hi-tech is really focusing on that sector. Recent Mobile Health Summit held in Capetown past week, involving as sponsor or partner major players in the field, has confirmed the track. To whom maybe interested, look at Mobile Health Summit.

    June 15, 2011

    I believe their are huge opportunities in the health care sector.  However one should not be fooled to think that this translates to a better health system in terms of more services or capabilities.  During hard ties (like now) government will always try to cut spending in real terms so the technologies that will do well will be those that can provide similar or better services AT A LOWER COST.  Now this might mean that instead of us being able to see our doctor and discuss a problem in person we might have to interface to a robot or a computer database.  Whether this translates to a better service will depend on the person you ask.

  6. saranyatil
    June 15, 2011

    Health care – Its all about timing, precision, accuracy.With the intervention of electronics and IT is going to make things simpler and fast. Lets take skin for an example and we develop some kind of a lession if we are able to send the image or have an video chat it makes it simpler to cure it right away instead to wait till we get an appointment later.

    Smart devices will come handy in the theatres , like the patient monitoring system.

  7. The Source
    June 15, 2011


    Your point is well taken. The intervention of technology to enable medical information to be shared and transmitted quickly among physicians will speed up the process of accessing patient information and therefore help doctors address problems faster.  Furthermore, sharing electronic medical records among doctors seeing the same patient can eliminate the duplication of tests which is one way to reduce costs. 

    Thanks for reading and responding to my article


  8. Tim Votapka
    June 15, 2011

    Having worked with several companies in healthcare, I can attest to the growth we're seeing here. Other areas of key interest include Patient Identification Systems (used in conjunction with RF technology), Materials Management (used to track and organize instruments that get re-used), Laboratory Management (used to help speed the flow and accuracy of patient sample handling and results reporting).


  9. Ariella
    June 15, 2011

    Medical practices are making use of social media, as well. 


    “Given the very rapid growth of social media it will become more and more important for eye care and surgery practices to adopt this method of connectivity to patients. Even for those ophthalmology practices that feel they have a solid foundation in internet marketing, participating in social media can be overwhelming and intimidating. It can also be a time consuming, ineffective and resource wasting effort,” said Ms. Carlisle. “The need to blend Internet strategy, brand strategy, patient acquisition strategy and media strategy into a coherent action plan-AND do it in the context of a medical practice with regard to content sensitivities, privacy and security, is not trivial.”

  10. Tim Votapka
    June 16, 2011

    Excellent point re; social media. Back in April I had read an interesting blog concerning diagnostic laboratories and social media. The online blog basically asked lab managers what the top 6 applications for social media are from their viewpoint.

    BTW, the conversation thread was on a Linked In group called Laboratory Management Professionals, a chat group chock full of dialogue among admins and chief medical technologists worldwide.

  11. Nemos
    June 16, 2011

    Nikole,  thank you. I have a clear picture now in my mind.

  12. The Source
    June 16, 2011


    I'm glad that I could help clarify this for you. Again, thanks for reading and responding to my post.


  13. Anna Young
    June 18, 2011

    Sarayantil, you’re right it's about right timing. I think this is the right time – don't you think? Home tele health care is anticipated in the USA to grow to 60.3 million households in 2015.

    With combination of factors, hopefully this will bring about better, more personalised , less expensive treatments that will keep the population healthier

    In addition, with a variety of technology applications in the healthcare sector, this will help to increase output per individual health worker. I fully embrace this.


  14. saranyatil
    June 18, 2011


    As you pointed out home Tele medicine is expected to grow more than 60.3million in the US and also its gaining popularity in the middle east and Asia too.

  15. seel225
    June 23, 2011

    In this present world every one needs to think about healthcare plan, modernizing healthcare information technology infrastructure brings many new oppurtunities in healthcare field. I think with growing population,increasing diseases, and IT sector making new inventions in Healthcare field. If something like detecting patient through video sensor and calculate his pulse and giving first aid instructions etc will make peoples like soldiers life easier. I am just hoping more new inventions will take place in future years in Healthcare industry.

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