How health care is turning into a consumer product

A new tech boom is changing the business of medicine

1/11/2022 4:34:00 PM

After a series of abortive attempts to tiptoe into the health business the technology giants are finding their feet at last

A new tech boom is changing the business of medicine

connect patients with physicians, and home tests enable self-diagnosis.The prize is gigantic. Health care consumes 18% of GDP in America, equivalent to $3.6trn a year. In other rich countries the share is lower, around 10%, but rising as populations age. The pandemic has made people more comfortable with online services, including digitally mediated care. Venture capitalists detect a sector that is uniquely ripe for disruption. CB Insights, a data provider, estimates that investments in digital-health startups nearly doubled in 2021, to $57bn (see chart 1). Unlisted health-care startups valued at $1bn or more now number 90, four times the figure five years ago (see chart 2). Such “unicorns” are competing with incumbent health-care companies and technology giants to make people better and prevent them from getting ill in the first place. In the process, they are turning patients into consumers.

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