Tech Giants Are Taking Over Healthcare, But That Won’t Ruin Your PR Program

By Dan Ventresca

There’s an invasion happening in healthcare right now with tech behemoths like Amazon, Apple and Google all making it abundantly clear they want to disrupt the space. Healthcare is a $3 trillion industry with flaws and inadequacies that are just begging for a new approach, making it a very easy target for companies that make a living identifying industry weaknesses.

Amazon bought the drug prescription service PillPack last year and also formed a healthcare venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase called Haven. Apple and Aetna are utilizing health data obtained from the Apple Watch in a new app, while Google’s parent company Alphabet wants to make health-tracking shoes.

If your company isn’t run by one of the wealthiest people on Earth, your first reaction to all this is probably, “We’ll never get coverage again!” All this activity from headline-grabbing companies can certainly make it more difficult for smaller companies to attract media attention – even from trade publications, let alone the national media. But, come on, pull yourself together! Riding in the wake of the big guys can present opportunities with the right approach.

Read and React 

Open a newspaper any day of the week and you are all but guaranteed to find a story about any of the companies mentioned above. Instead of being intimidated by their omnipresence in the media, look for opportunities for reactive commentary. The fact that there are so many stories out there means there are tons of chances to plug the voice of your CEO or another company leader into the story. As an expert in the field, their opinion matters to reporters.

Walgreens announced recently it is bringing in Microsoft to revamp its data systems and maybe you work in the health IT space. Can your CEO speak to the impact of this deal? Maybe they have insight on how big of an undertaking this is for Microsoft. The story is not about your organization, but there are ways to inject your voice into the story.

We’re all pulling the same rope

At the end of the day, Amazon et al are doing the same thing everyone else is doing: trying to make healthcare better for consumers. With that in mind, take a look at this headline from Fortune and imagine you work at a small health insurance company: “Apple and Aetna’s New Tracking App Will Reward Healthy Behavior.”

The heart of this story is something any executive from any insurer, health tech or health organization can speak to: population health. This could be a great opportunity to position your CEO as a thought leader addressing different tactics for improving population health. Consider writing an opinion piece under these hypothetical headlines: “Five ways the Apple Watch will change healthcare” or “The best ideas for improving population health in 2019.”

So, instead of shaking your fist in the air every time you read about a multi-billion-dollar tech company jumping into healthcare, try to look for an angle that applies to your company. Jeff Bezos is not on a mission to ruin your PR program, he’s just a (super rich) guy trying to get a doctor appointment like everyone else.