The #HIMSS18 exhibit hall was proof of the growing trend of non-traditional healthcare companies entering the market. Along every aisle there were booths from consumer and B2B brands that are familiar outside the context of healthcare. There were mega-brands like:
But it wasn’t just tech giants that made an appearance at #HIMSS18. Sprinkled throughout the exhibit hall were other organizations who were taking their products and expertise, honed in other industries and applying them to healthcare:
- Zebra Technologies
- Liaison Technologies
I found this second group of companies fascinating.
In recent weeks we have seen big announcement from companies like Apple and Amazon about their new healthcare initiatives. On a #hcldr tweetchat early last month, we solicited opinions in collaboration with HIMSS on whether the arrival of these companies was ultimately going to be good or bad for healthcare. The community’s reaction was one of “cautious exuberance”.
On one hand, many were very excited about the potential for these companies to spur innovation and improve user (aka patient) experiences. On the other hand many people brought forward concerns about how viable these companies could scale their healthcare initiatives.
Consider Amazon and Apple’s recent announcements. Both are working toward creating a private network of clinics that are available to staff that bypasses the traditional provider-payer ecosystem. The goal is to drive down healthcare costs for employees while simultaneously improving workforce efficiency. But both these tech giants have highly-skilled, highly-educated workforces and they both operate in a hyper-competitive talent market where health benefits could be a deciding factor. I’m not sure how this might scale to companies where wages are lower and competition is not as fierce. Would there be the same incentive?
It will be interesting to see how these do-it-yourself approaches work out in the long term. But what has me more excited are the non-traditional healthcare companies that are bringing their products and expertise from other industries to healthcare. Companies like Zebra Technologies (retail & transportation), Windstream (infrastructure & communications) and Pegasystms (financial technology) are quietly using their non-healthcare solutions to improve healthcare TODAY. This practical approach is exciting to see because of the immediate benefit to healthcare and because the solutions are proven.
Their outside-in perspective coupled with their significant resources is something that I will be watching closely in the months following HIMSS18.
*Windstream Enterprises, Pegasystems and Liaison Technologies are sponsors of Healthcare Scene.