- A growing list of technology giants have made their way to the FDA's offices in Silver Spring, MD of late, including Apple, Google and most recently, online retailer Amazon.com.
- Speculation about Amazon.com's plans is all over the map, including talk that the e-retailer is considering a move into selling FDA-related healthcare products or that it's considering throwing its hat into the mHealth space. Whatever its plans are, they're likely to be "big," observers say.
- Meanwhile, Google reportedly met with the FDA to discuss plans for a contact lens that can sense a patient's glucose levels through tears. Apple reportedly put forward its plans for its HealthKit app and iWatch smartwatch.
While it's far from clear which of the tech giants have strongest foothold in healthcare at this point, it's clear their interest is moving from hypothetical to concrete rather quickly. It's likely that at least one of these tech players, not to mention other peers with consumer distribution channels, are likely to go head-to-head with existing firms both large and small that serve the mHealth and medical device marketplaces. By early next year, in fact, the battle may be well and truly engaged, with Apple holding an obvious advantage in healthcare consumer devices but its peers well-equipped to catch up.
Still, as the visits to the agency demonstrate, the FDA could stand between the big techs and their medical device and mHealth ambitions. At the moment, the FDA is struggling to keep up with the flood of mobile health applications produced each month, which far outpaces its ability to regulate them. But it seems likely that as mHealth and consumer-oriented medical devices pour into the marketplace, the agency will put its foot down and begin to impose more structure. This could very well put a large crimp in plans that these iconic tech companies have for the marketplace.
Want to read more? You may enjoy this story on hospitals who are creating and selling tech to build their bottom lines.