Health tools and services

South Africa appears to be well on track with its development of health-related apps which help clients avoid the costly, and often dangerous visits to their GPs and hospitals. Elsewhere in the world, the same thing is happening.

In an article titled “Big Tech becomes Big Health”, Wunderman Thompson Intelligence notes that new health ventures and investments reflect a growing focus on health tools and services. Below is an extract from this article:

Google is ramping up its suite of health tools. Google’s newest app is helping patients identify skin conditions. The “dermatology assist” app, which was unveiled in May 2021 at the annual Google IO developer conference, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze user-uploaded pictures of skin, hair and nails for diagnosis. While the app is not intended to replace a visit to the doctor’s office, it has been awarded a CE mark for use as a medical tool in Europe, the BBC reports. Google is turning smartphones into sophisticated health measurement tools.

Amazon is reportedly planning a new health diagnostics arm that would offer at-home medical tests for things like COVID-19, sexually transmitted infections and clinical genomics, Business Insider reported in May. The new diagnostics brands would mark the Big Tech company’s third healthcare initiative, alongside Amazon Pharmacy, launched in November 2020, and Amazon Care, which will expand nationally this summer.

Microsoft is investing heavily in healthcare to build out its presence in the health space. In April, Microsoft acquired AI speech tech company Nuance for $19.7 billion—the company’s second-largest acquisition after purchasing LinkedIn in 2016 for $26 billion. “Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application.”

In an era where every business is now a health business, Big Tech is upping the ante. Expect to see continued investments pouring into the health tech space as Big Tech looks to innovate everything from health records to diagnosis.

It is of course not only in the health field that South Africans excel. The short-term industry is making huge inroads in changing driving behaviour – much more that ineffective changes in legislation like lowering the maximum alcohol limit which will only contribute to the judicial overload of unsolved cases and the forensics backlog without any change in driver behaviour.

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