Many eyes are watching the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech stalwarts for signals about their healthcare intentions. While some moves are already out in the open, such as Apple Health Records and Amazon Web Services expressing interest in longitudinal health records and analytics, the technology giants have also filed for patents that foretell the future. 

As of January 23, Amazon owned 7096 US patents, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In addition, Amazon Technologies Inc had filed and published 870 patent applications while Inc had filed and published 16 patent applications.

Amazon has been granted patents for thousands of inventions spanning one-click buying, drones, virtual-reality mirrors and Alexa, the company’s AI–powered voice assistant.

Google – with 186 patents – has focused mostly on investments for DeepMind, its artificial intelligence technology, and Verily, its healthcare and disease research entity, according to a new Kalorama report.

Apple filed 54 patents to turn its iPhone into a medical device that can monitor biometric data such as blood pressure and body fat levels, and to develop algorithms to predict abnormal heart rates. 

Microsoft filed 73 patents based on expanding its AI capabilities and developing monitoring devices for chronic diseases.

Such innovations have encouraged biopharma, medtech and providers to partner with these tech giants to boost digital healthcare, Kalorama said. 

Although Amazon has not officially announced details, industry rumblings indicate the ecommerce and cloud giant has been working with a secret project team known as 1492 that is exploring platforms for EHR data, health apps and telemedicine.

The 1492 team is reportedly working on extracting data from EMRs to make it more useful to healthcare providers, while adding to the healthcare offerings of existing Amazon products such as Amazon Echo and the Dash Wand. 

Microsoft, meanwhile, has a number of projects that are impacting or will impact on the digital health arena including Microsoft Genomics, Microsoft Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint. The tech giant is also expanding Microsoft's Intelligent Network and plans to create an AI-focused network in cardiology.

Originally published on the US edition of Heathcare IT News.

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