Microsoft and Google muscle into healthcare

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Microsoft and Google muscle into healthcare

Web giants could turn sector on its head, analyst believes.

Google and Microsoft are about to have a "significant impact" on the healthcare sector, according to UK-based analyst firm Wireless Healthcare.

Aware that many internet searches are health related, the two web giants are attempting to build a presence in the healthcare sector that will affect healthcare professionals and medical device manufacturers.

Wireless Healthcare believes that Google's recent investment in genetic profiling company 23andMe, and Microsoft's purchase of intelligent medical search company Medstory, could lead to "highly disruptive" healthcare services.

The first evidence of the internet's effect on healthcare has already become obvious to doctors who are now dealing with informed patients who have 'Googled' their symptoms.

Wireless Healthcare speculated that these web savvy patients could ultimately gain access to their genetic profile, and manage their health using an online patient record.

"We are seeing the emergence of a new health model that challenges some of the assumptions made by existing online healthcare providers and medical device manufacturers," said Wireless Healthcare analyst Peter Kruger.

"This new model affects how diseases are diagnosed and the way healthcare is delivered and electronic health services are funded."

Kruger believes that, while internet search firms derive most of their revenues from advertising, it is unlikely that they will be able to base online health on the same funding model.

"Advertising and healthcare do not mix well and this issue is already proving to be controversial. I am sure that regulators would be unhappy if banner advertisements started to appear on a patient's online medical record or diagnosis," said Kruger.

However, Wireless Healthcare said that a number of funding models have already been deployed by companies marketing healthcare devices and services to the growing 40 to 59 demographic group.

This group comprises people who take their health seriously and have started to use internet searches to identify early signs of disease.
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