AI, Accenture and Amazon: HITS acquisitions update 2020

Accenture’s steady appetite, Amazon’s potential new offering and Google’s uncertain moves

Accenture’s acquisition of Clarity Insights follows the company’s INTIENT purchase and rounds out a typically active acquisition year for one of the leaders in TBR’s HITS benchmark. Clarity Insights brings Accenture AI and machine learning capabilities, 350 healthcare data scientists, and healthcare industry clients. As noted in our most recent full report on Accenture’s HITS business, “Accenture targeted the AI opportunity in life sciences in mid-2019, launching its INTIENT platform for collecting, storing, monitoring and analyzing data from life sciences clients’ business environments. The platform leverages Accenture Applied Intelligence to provide AI and analytics services, improving efficiency and data management.” Beyond extending Accenture’s capabilities, the Clarity Insights acquisition reinforces Accenture’s strategy around AI and life sciences that the INTIENT purchase supported. The report adds, “TBR believes Accenture must foster industry-specific partnerships to extend the capabilities of INTIENT and drive traction for the platform in the industry.” TBR will closely track how Accenture’s partnerships evolve and how the company drives new revenue based on these acquisitions.

Echoing Accenture’s focus on AI, Amazon acquired Health Navigator, a platform designed to foster more expeditious collaboration between healthcare providers and patients, in part through natural language processing and enhanced analytics. Amazon reportedly purchased the company amid efforts to build out Amazon Care, its in-house healthcare services, which it launched in September 2019. On the surface, Amazon’s healthcare-related acquisitions and moves denote neither an immediate threat to traditional HITS vendors nor a clear signal Amazon intends to become a different kind of player in the HITS space. Analyzing Amazon only on the surface would be foolishly shortsighted. Once the company irons out the challenges within Amazon Care, including fully integrating Health Navigator, TBR expects the company will craft a new offering for Amazon clients, potentially starting first with healthcare joint venture partners JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A; NYSE: BRK.B). At 1.2 million employees for those three companies combined, Amazon would have a sizable test bed for enhancing current capabilities and developing new offerings. If Amazon can demonstrate an ability to provide top-notch healthcare services for its own employees and a few select partners, every household will wonder if the first step in getting healthcare should start with, “Alexa …”     

In acquiring Fitbit, Alphabet (Google) alarmed some data privacy and industry analysts concerned that the search engine and advertising giant bought the wearables company to gain access to massive amounts of personal, and specifically healthcare-related, data. Both companies’ executives declared data protections would be unchanged and the underlying reasons for the acquisition centered on Fitbit’s expertise and intellectual property around wearable devices and health-tracking applications, platforms and user experience. In TBR’s view, acquiring Fitbit conforms with Google’s overall expansion strategy and specifically boosts the company’s potential role in the overall HITS space. Enhancing Fitbit’s platform with Google’s AI capabilities could further minimize perennial HITS challenges, such as around data privacy and population health, but only if Google can manage the delicate tasks of leveraging user data without violating privacy, crafting and enhancing algorithms that improve the user experience, and maintaining the streamlined seamless flexibility of Fitbit even as the data flows into the highly regulated healthcare ecosystem.  

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