- Big technology companies are getting more interested in healthcare.
- Whether those companies will be able to “disrupt” the industry remains to be seen.
- Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov said he sees tech companies that play off their existing strengths coming out ahead.
Major tech companies have been eyeing the healthcare world.
From Apple to Facebook to Google, there are a number of strategies companies are taking to crack into healthcare, including the drug industry. But how exactly they will mesh with established industry players — like big pharma companies — remains to be seen.
Flemming Ornskov, CEO of the $US50 billion drugmaker Shire, told Business Insider that there were certain ways he expected the tech industry to enter the pharma space.
Room for disruption
Shire is known for making ADHD medicine, like Adderall and Vyvanse, and its focus on rare diseases like the blood disorder hemophilia. The company works with major tech companies, like Salesforce, which helps Shire connect with customers, and Amazon, for data services.
Leveraging those existing skills — rather than, say, developing drugs themselves — is how Ornskov sees the tech “disrupting” pharma.
“What are they really good at? They’re good at huge datasets and taking those datasets and developing algorithms that can take past behaviour and predict future behaviour,” Ornskov said. “I think that they’re sniffing around in healthcare in areas where their expertise can be used. Is that going to be helping patients to go quickly from all the various symptoms to a potential diagnosis? Is it going to be taking the world’s medical literature and making it available in a different way? Is it going to be second opinions for people who are having diseases and want to get a second opinion?”
When it comes to the cutting-edge new science that traditional biotech companies are developing, Ornskov said he’s not sure big tech companies will have much of an impact there.
“I just don’t see that because the disruption in those areas has more to do with new technologies, which is gene therapy,” among others, Ornskov said. “I think where the disruption could come more in healthcare is in the delivery of healthcare, how patients are getting their medicine.”
That could mean middlemen getting cut out, or perhaps chatting with your doctor over the phone instead of in person.