Can Google and Big Tech Infiltrate the Health and Fitness Market?


Alphabet‘s ( GOOGL -1.91% ) ( GOOG -1.80% ) Google segment is developing cutting-edge healthcare initiatives around the globe, and other big tech companies like Apple and Amazon are making their own forays into the health and fitness space. In this episode of “The Health & Fitness Show” on Motley Fool Live, recorded on March 25, contributors Rachel Warren and Brian Orelli discuss Google Health and more with Motley Fool analyst Sanmeet Deo.

Rachel Warren: I think right now the business models are moving in a little bit of a different direction, but those could converge in the future, I think, if indeed, Google Health is successful with this. Some years ago, there was a lot of to-do around Google Health and then it floundered a bit. What was interesting was seeing some different articles out on the web after this event. It was like, “Oh, Google Health is trying to make a comeback.” Now, can they do it? I think it’s very possible they can. I agree with you as a consumer, I love the idea of being able to just type in a search and book a doctor’s appointment or a checkup or whatever the case may be, because I can say for myself sometimes it’s trying to figure out which doctor to go to for whatever that need is. It can be a little complicated. I love the idea of simplifying that aspect.

I think where they to go further into the telehealth space and be successful at it, they could pose a disruption to a company like Teladoc. But it seems like right now, a lot of it is focused on certain other aspects of streamlining healthcare and some of it in very early stages. But it does seem really interesting. I like that they’re trying to revitalize the segment of their business that Google or Alphabet has also been so successful in so many different ventures, but its foray healthcare had not been so much of a success, I think, to the surprise of a lot of investors. As an investor, I am very interested to see where this goes and how successful they can be in implementing this new line of programs they have introduced.

Brian Orelli: Teladoc has a partnership recently with Amazon, and now you can book your Teladoc appointment via your Alexa device. There’s no reason I don’t think that Teladoc could also get in on this new partnership with Google, and then you could book your Teladoc appointment via the Google search.

Sanmeet Deo: It’s interesting because with all this stuff with Google Health and all the stuff you talked about is really fascinating. What I also find so fascinating about Google is they’re using AI machine learning to power a lot of what they’re doing with data. It’s cool to see them do that. It’s interesting because, as you were talking, I was thinking of, there’s so many health and fitness companies that we’re going to be talking about on this show. The fitness companies are different, they’re their own thing. But with health companies and outside of medical device companies, those are also different. But when I think about health companies, healthcare companies, it’s almost like some of the big tech companies are all encroaching onto the healthcare scene in different ways. All the stuff you’re talking about today, using AI machine learning to power their Google Health engine, they bought Fitbit, so they’re getting into the wearables. Really, I think, it’s powered by just collection of health data and then using that data to provide services and things. Amazon, it seems like, is more on the telehealth side. I don’t know of any other initiatives they’re doing outside of the telehealth stuff.

Orelli: They have a pharmacy, too.

Deo: That’s right. Prescriptions and pharmacy stuff. I see them as telehealth and prescriptions and pharmacies. Then you have Apple, which they have health data that they collect with their Apple watch and their devices because they’re a big hardware play. They’re drifting to fitness as well. It’s interesting to line all these big tech companies up in where they’re heading in the whole health and fitness. The way I think about it is if you want to invest in the healthcare space in a certain aspect you want to invest in, if you’re bullish on data and AI and health, Google might be an interesting opportunity because they delve into all of that. If you’re a big believer in telehealth, maybe Amazon or Teladoc. Or if you’re big into connected fitness, fitness, or just general health data for consumers, maybe Apple is kind of a direction that you go into. It’s interesting how these tech companies are really encroaching in these areas. It kind of keeps some of the other healthcare companies on their toes.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.


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