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Outside the Box: How big tech’s move into healthcare could make you money

CES 2023 marked a “Return to Normal” for the annual tech event. With 100,000 plus back in Las Vegas, it felt like the CES of old, but for healthcare and digital health technology, it was all about what is new. 

With several megatrends garnering the spotlight at this year’s show, including automotive, devices, and the metaverse, it was healthcare-focused technologies that caught my attention. These could provide an interesting opportunity for investors. 

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The healthcare trendline for big tech

We have witnessed massive spending by large technology companies to expand their healthcare footprints. Over the past 18 months, Microsoft Corp.

spent nearly $20 billion to acquire Nuance; Oracle Corp.

paid more than $37 billion to purchase Cerner, and

has made a series of significant investments and deals in healthcare, including its recently closed acquisition of One Medical for $3.9 billion. And don’t forget Alphabet Inc.

unit Google’s purchase of Fitbit for just over $2 billion, earlier in 2021.

These headline acquisitions mark some of the most notable deals in healthcare, but it isn’t just about M&A. There is also strong momentum for apps and devices that help consumers take control of their health and wellness. Perhaps the most notable has been the splash that Apple Inc.

has made with its health app and Apple Watch, which began monitoring user ECG back in 2018. The company has continued to advance its health and wellness-oriented apps and wearables. Big tech companies expect to see an estimated $32.2 billion in spending on digital health in 2023, and with that, they see a significant opportunity to play a more prominent role in the future of the healthcare industry. 

Digital health innovation on display

CES 2023 underscored the trend of big technology and healthcare coming closer together. Here are a few standout concepts:

Movano Ring came back this year with a new smart ring, Evie. This device is designed to give women a complete picture of their health, including resting heart rate, period and ovulation tracking, sleep stages, SpO2 levels, skin temperature variability and more. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, the ring will be the first consumer wearable to be considered a medical device. 

Nuralogix showed off Anura, the company’s innovative health and wellness app. It works by taking a 30-second selfie and then using that data to create a comprehensive readout, including vital stats, such as heart rate and blood pressure. More impressive is its ability to provide a series of mental health-related diagnostics, such as stress and depression levels, body-mass index and skin age, and risk levels and biomarkers for hypertension, stroke, and heart disease, diabetes.

Epicor Biosystems unveiled its new Connected Hydration sweat patch and mobile app. The company says this is the first electronic wearable that continuously measures sweat fluid and electrolyte loss while monitoring skin temperature and movement. To prevent dehydration, an alarm goes off on the device when the wearer’s fluid loss exceeds 2% of body weight.

Small innovation becomes Big Tech’s opportunity 

Many of the announcements that made headlines for health tech at CES came from small innovative startups. Some of these companies may become acquisition targets for big tech, while others turn into data sources in the cloud using powerful AI technologies. All of these will feed the next generation of mobile apps that will monitor, track, and increasingly provide feedback and recommendations for managing our health. 

Looking ahead, we will likely find ourselves visiting doctors in the metaverse. Our wearables, cameras, and mobile devices will be a constant set of eyes and ears to monitor our health and wellness. Big tech is already taking note. Investors should keep an eye on this megatrend as it will provide a unique path to increased revenue and customer engagement for the companies that can execute on what could be a $1.5 trillion market by 2030.

Daniel Newman is the principal analyst at Futurum Research, which provides or has provided research, analysis, advising or consulting to Oracle, Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and other technology companies. Neither he nor his firm holds any equity positions in companies cited. Follow him on Twitter @danielnewmanUV.

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