05 Dec The biggest companies invest in digital health
The biggest companies invest in digital health
There are more and more companies that are associated with start-ups or research centers to conduct studies and develop technological solutions for digital health. The potential that individual consumption devices can have in providing benefits in cases of mental health disorders has become unquestionable. Recent additions to investment rounds from Apple, Eli Lilly and Evidation Health testify. These large companies have partnered to develop neurodigital biomarkers, such as an iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Beddit sleep monitoring device.
These devices, in combination with digital applications, could detect people with mild cognitive impairment and differentiate them from those with Alzheimer’s disease, a remarkable achievement considering that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) six million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other types of dementia (1).
Trends in investor strategies
The most active technology giants that invest in new digital health companies are Google, Microsoft, and Tencent. These companies represent more than 70% of digital health agreements, with Google being the undisputed leader through its corporate funds Google Ventures, CapitalG and Gradient Ventures. Google is also an investor in powerful private health insurance in the United States, such as Oscar Health and Clover Health. The company made its first bet at the beginning of 2017 in the acquisition of $40 million of the research and development assets of the Fossil smartwatch, and recently acquired Fitbit, the most veteran company in the manufacture of smart bracelets that processes and provides information about your health or fitness. The capabilities of remote patient monitoring will be crucial for Google’s health strategy in the future, especially in clinical research.
On the other hand, Microsoft invests in acceleration programs such as Microsoft ScaleUp and Microsoft AI Factory, programs that actively work with digital health companies in their early stages. Most of their investments are in management and data analysis companies.
Tencent Holdings of China is the third-largest technology investor in digital health. The company has made more than 700 investments since 2018. This year the corporate entity completed 84% of its investments in digital health.
Another of the big ones that bet on digital health is Amazon, who recently acquired a company called ‘Health Navigator’, a startup that develops a programming interface for health services. This will become part of ‘Amazon Care’, the pilot medical services program that so far receives its employees, but is expected to expand in the future. This is Amazon’s second agreement related to health technology, an indicator that they are here to stay.
There are many companies that in the last five years have backed and invested in digital health. Intel, Samsung, Alibaba, and Comcast are also committed to these technologies, and their areas of focus have varied as new regulations and innovations have emerged.
(1) Goodman, R.A., Lochner, K.A., Thambisetty, M., Wingo, T.S., Posner, S.F., and Ling, S.M. Prevalence of dementia subtypes in United States Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) beneficiaries, 2011–2013. Alzheimers Dement. 2017; 13: 28–37