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New and established healthcare technology companies make big moves

I am floored by how many players made significant moves in recent weeks to become new healthcare technology companies or further anchor their existing position in the industry.

Consider these ambitious announcements:

  • Apple promoted that its updated Health app would allow people to get a broad view of their medical records, pulling from EHR systems and other sources.
  • Epic Systems promoted that its new One Virtual System Worldwide will expand data sharing for clinicians working in hospitals that use Epic EHR systems.
  • Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway announced a long-term plan to form an independent healthcare company for their workers, including through a heavy dose of technology.

For an editor like me, it’s been a fun month to cover healthcare technology companies. Amazon’s plans, as vague as they are at this early point, lie beyond the traditional health IT world for now. But it’s not hard to image that if Amazon and company are successful, Uncle Sam and providers will be looking at how the new health system works with value-based care.

Apple Health app is undergoing pilot testing with a dozen hospitals and other organizations (we’ve got a reporter chasing down these “daring dozen” right now). The tech giant has the influence and power to create a rift in how other tech companies do things in the health IT world.

As our story on Epic noted, the company’s EHR has always been interoperable for different hospitals using Epic platforms. But its moves are a notable attempt to boost data sharing.

One Virtual System Worldwide features three tiers: the previously existing Come Together (gathering patient data in one place) and Happy Together (presenting combined data in an easy-to-read format), along with the new Working Together (enabling providers to take data-based actions across organizations). The nod to 1960s rock tunes as product features is firmly within the quirky culture of Epic.

Although the Beatles probably knew nothing about healthcare technology companies or interoperability back in the day, one of the lyrics from their famous song “Come Together” rings true for liberating patient record access in today’s health IT world:

“One thing I can tell you is you got to be free.”

Which of these big companies do you think stands to make the most headway this year with its new products? I’m going with Amazon’s group, if only because its members will operate outside the usual sphere of healthcare limitations — and the work will likely get the most mainstream press. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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