The U.S. healthcare landscape has evolved immensely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways the changes we’re seeing now have been in process for some time. Virtual care, patient data exchange and engagement strategies have been top of mind for industry professionals for years, but the pace of progress in the last year, particularly by nontraditional players, is noteworthy.  

From making telemedicine more consumer friendly to increasing access to care during the pandemic, retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens are further infiltrating the healthcare delivery system by ramping up their virtual care initiatives. A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review details telehealth expansions introduced by these companies over the past year, and some may surprise you.

But retail companies aren’t the only ones making waves. Terry Myerson, best known for his work at Microsoft developing Xbox and Surface, is at the helm of a new healthcare company with an interesting value proposition. STAT reported that Truveta, which was formed by 14 U.S. health systems, intends to aggregate and sell de-identified data on millions of American patients to help answer some of medicine’s most pressing questions. Not surprisingly, Truveta’s launch is spurring important conversations about the way medical data is defined and put to use.

Lastly, while having an app to engage patients is widely considered table stakes today, some hospitals have been recognized for taking the concept a step further. Modern Healthcare details the journeys of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Health, and El Camino Health in developing and launching apps that engage their patients, particularly during a tumultuous time. As smartphones have become tightly intertwined into so many Americans’ lives, hospital executives have realized that to play a central role in their patients’ health, they need to meet them where they are—via their phone.

Look for our next Health IT newsletter in March!