DAVOS, Switzerland — Marc Harrison has a meeting scheduled with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Friday.
Business Insider executive editor Matt Turner sat down with Harrison, the CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, the main health system in Utah, at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. Intermountain operates 22 hospitals and also runs the SelectHealth insurance plan, which has about 815,000 members, according to Intermountain’s annual report.
Harrison explained where he’s interested in seeing big tech companies like Microsoft get more involved in healthcare. He said his health system is speaking with major tech giants, including Microsoft.
“We’re interested in, not only automation, but how do we understand predictive analytics, how do we understand social biometrics,” Harrison said. “How do we really get as complete a non-creepy view of our patients as possible.”
He said the goal is to get permission from the health system’s patients or insurance-company members to use the data to “nudge them in the right directions to keep themselves well.”
It’s going to be a tricky balance between collecting enough information to get a comprehensive picture of a patient and making sure it doesn’t go too far into the “creepy” zone. Already, health systems have experimented with collecting genetic information from patients. But information captured from the time patients spend outside the hospital is still limited.
Big tech players like Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft are getting interested in tackling healthcare. Amazon, for instance, in November announced it would offer a service called Amazon Comprehend Medical to hospitals, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies to help them analyze their health-records data. The company also bought pharmacy startup PillPack in 2018, marking its entrance into prescription-drug delivery.
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Microsoft has been expanding its healthcare data and research, ambitions, too, with a focus on analyzing large sets of data and using its cloud service. Last week, Microsoft announced plans to partner with pharmacy giant Walgreens. Microsoft will be Walgreens’ cloud partner, meaning Microsoft will be in charge of managing Walgreens’ data storage, and Walgreens employees will now use Microsoft 365 for their office software. For consumers, Microsoft and Walgreens plan to test out health offerings, including 12 pilot “digital health corners” in stores.
Harrison said he understands why big tech is getting interested into healthcare in a more serious way.
“Our industry is too inefficient,” Harrison said. A 2018 review in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that America spends about twice as much as other high-income countries on healthcare. “So they’re not dumb. Somebody is going to figure this out. And there’s social good to be done and money to be made, so people are going to figure it out.”
Harrison said he wants Intermountain to be part of that picture.
“One of the reasons that we’re pushing so hard at Intermountain is we see this crystal clear, and we want to be perfectly positioned to be a part of it, and we don’t want to be on a back foot,” Harrison said.