How Apple, Google, and Wal-Mart Could Use Technology to Disrupt Health-Care Companies

Dr. Apple, Dr. Google, and Dr. Wal-Mart? It's not that far-fetched.

Apr 26, 2014 at 8:00AM

Traditional health-care companies might want to watch out. There are a few new players in town -- and they mean business.

That's the message from a new report released by PwC's Health Research Institute, or HRI. According to HRI, new entrants to the health-care market are "poised to shake up the industry, drawing billions of dollars in revenue from traditional health-care organizations."

Many of these newbies aren't start-up companies, though. Far from it. Some of the largest organizations from multiple industries are redefining what it means to be a health-care business. Here are three of the biggest companies mentioned in the HRI report that hope to claim their stake in the $2.8 trillion market. 

1. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL)
It's no surprise Apple could be looking a taking a bite out of the health-care market. In several ways, the company has already revolutionized the industry without fully targeting the sector. Now Apple could be getting serious.


iWatch concept art by Todd Hamilton. Source: 

HRI mentioned that the Cupertino giant secured a patent last year for a "seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor" that could run on its iPhones. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

The New York Times reported that several high-level company executives met with representatives from the FDA in December to talk about mobile medical applications. This meeting, combined with Apple's hiring of some prominent health-care experts to its team, prompted extensive speculation that the company could be making a major push into mobile health care, possibly with a forthcoming iWatch. 

2. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)
Speaking of extensive speculation, Google's creation of a new company called Calico has sparked its fair share of rumors. In September, Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page announced the formation of Calico to focus on "the challenge of aging and associated diseases."

Google Sign

Google put together a powerhouse team of genetic researchers headed by Arthur Levinson, former Genentech CEO. Exactly what they're working on remains something of a mystery. However, research conducted by one of Calico's latest hires provides a clue. 

Aging-research pioneer Dr. Cynthia Kenyon joined Google's effort as a consultant last November but came on board full time this month. She helped start a company in 1999 seeking to develop a so-called "fountain of youth" drug. Her research at the University of California, San Francisco, focused on identifying "genes, pathways, and drugs that can extend lifespan." 

3. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT)
Giant retailer Wal-Mart is taking a less exotic approach -- but one that could be a game-changer for the health-care industry. The company partnered with Kaiser Permanente in 2013 to establish micro-clinics in a couple of its California stores. The clinics feature diagnostic devices such as blood pressure cuffs with telemedicine connections to Kaiser Permanente clinical professionals.


While Wal-Mart monitors how this California experiment fares, it is moving forward on another front. SoloHealth's health screening stations are already in many Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. The stations allow shoppers to check their vision and blood pressure and complete health risk assessments. 

Marcus Osborne, Wal-Mart's Vice President of Health and Wellness Payer Relations, said "there is a new world order coming." What's in this new world order of health care? He noted his company is still exploring and learning. However, whatever new services that could emerge from these efforts, Osborne thinks, will be "heavily technology-enabled" and "dead simple to engage with." 

Watching out
These aren't the only giants of industry moving into the health-care world. HRI also noted that Ford, for example, is working on ways to embed chronic disease management into its cars. Ford executive Gary Strumolo stated that the big automaker is "dedicated to understanding the value of being able to connect to health and wellness-related services while driving."

Traditional health-care companies and providers should be watching out for these new competitors. HRI's research found that many consumers are ready to jump aboard new and more convenient models of care. Companies working on innovative new approaches for health care just might be the big winners for this nascent market.

Dr. Apple, Dr. Google, and Dr. Wal-Mart? It's not that far-fetched. 

The biggest thing to come out of Silicon Valley in years
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now... for just a fraction of the price of AAPL stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Keith Speights owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Ford, and Google-Class C Shares. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Ford, and Google-Class C Shares. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information