Giving Compass' Take:

• Politico examines tech companies' growing influence in healthcare, highlighting changes in 2018 with positive, negative, and uncertain implications for the future of the industry. 

• How can funders help to facilitate the creation of safe, equitable, and effective ed tech? What are the dangers of tech companies entering the healthcare industry? 

• Learn about the need for technology to drive SDG health target progress

2018 has been a breakout year for health innovation.

Major tech companies plunged fully into the health care arena, hiring teams of health care experts and launching major initiatives. Google conducted landmark artificial intelligence studies; Apple signed up 500 health systems to provided patient data to its digital health records platform; and Amazon announced a health care venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan led by writer and surgeon Atul Gawande. Investments by health IT startups topped $6.8 billion by the end of September, well over the previous year’s total.

At the same time, health care systems intensified low-tech, hands-on efforts to improve care and lower costs, adding navigators, coaches and community health workers. Issues such as food security, housing and transport took root in board rooms, and the phrase, “social determinants of health” swept the industry. Telemedicine expanded as hospital systems used consults through email, phone and Skype-like encounters to offer cheaper and more convenient patient care. All this against the backdrop of a health care landscape being transformed by new partnerships and mergers, including some configurations not seen before.

The panelists agreed that technology and cost pressures are causing a “shift left” in health care, with responsibilities moving from expensive specialists to primary care physicians, and from physicians to nurses, aides, social workers and even patients themselves. They forecast that companies like Amazon are well-placed to take advantage of younger, healthier consumers’ desires for cheaper, more convenient health care. The outlook for technology to transform more significant treatment is murkier, at least in the short run — in part because of the thick overlay of regulation that slows technology-fueled change.

Read the full article about tech companies in healthcare at Politico.