Gary Gottlieb is in a prime spot to see how technology companies are shaking up healthcare.
A trained psychiatrist who previously ran Partners Healthcare in Boston, one of the largest hospitals in the country, Gottlieb is currently CEO of Partners in Health, which focuses on taking care of poor people around the world. He’s also an executive partner at venture firm Flare Capital Partners, working in an advisory role.
He pays close attention to how tech companies are jumping into the space where he has spent his career.
“Their excitement and interest in healthcare is wonderful,” said Gottleib, in an interview.
Gottlieb’s enthusiasm isn’t shared by many of his peers, who are skeptical of the types of moves that Apple and Amazon are plotting in the medical space, ranging from breakthrough medical devices to mail-order pharmacies.
But Amazon has shown that it can do many things at once, and it’s not afraid to take on low-margin industries with established incumbents. Health industry executives can no longer rely on complexity as being the significant barrier to entry.
Healthcare spending in the U.S. has climbed to $3.5 trillion a year, and Gottlieb said there are countless “dysfunctions” that tech companies could tackle and ways they can add value. One example, Gottlieb said, is developing cybersecurity tools that health systems can use to better protect patients against ransomware attacks and other breaches of their medical data.
Another is improving transparency around healthcare payments, and he’s also optimistic about the potential for machine learning when applied to healthcare data, although there are still major barriers to accessing it.
Gottlieb said that tech companies will need to recruit leaders with a lot of experience in healthcare, including clinicians who are actively treating patients. They also need to team up with smaller clinics, qualified health centers, and policymakers, not just the big hospital executives.