These are the most disruptive companies shaking up healthcare, executives say

Healthcare executives are keeping their eyes on Amazon. And given the tech giant's expanding reach in healthcare, that's not too surprising.

But when KLAS Research asked more than 300 healthcare leaders to identify the most potentially disruptive company in healthcare, they found plenty of smaller, emerging companies getting a lot of buzz as well.

The company names that were dropped could indicate the healthcare problems executives are most focused on solving right now.

Among the top companies frequently mentioned: Cedar, a patient payment and engagement platform, according to KLAS Research's survey. Cedar, launched in 2016, offers patient-personalized medical billing, and the company has raised $49 million in venture capital funding.

Here's a look at some of the other names dropped in the survey: 

  • Artificial intelligence company Jvion also racked up the mentions. The company is working with health systems like Novant Health to use predictive analytics to identify preventable harm. 

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  • Other "emerging" vendors mentioned multiple times by executives include Google, diabetes management company Livongo, Microsoft, Salesforce and Apprentice Health, which provides clinical workflow software.
  • Executives also see Arctic Wolf, a healthcare cybersecurity company, as a potential disrupter in healthcare as well as Nuance, a company working on conversational and natural language processing for healthcare, and TytoCare, which provides at-home medical exam kits combined with virtual care. 
  • Other companies that executives mentioned include Caretaker Medical, DoseMe, eMerge Health, Evidence Partners, HeartFlow and Lean TaaS. 

In general, AI and machine learning continue to be a hot market for healthcare executives, based on the number of times respondents mentioned emerging vendors in that segment, the survey found. Executives also are interested in telehealth companies, following by analytics and business intelligence, population health and robotic process automation.

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Technology segments that executives are lukewarm about include blockchain, price transparency, natural language processing and patient experience.

Despite heated debate about upcoming federal data-sharing rules, interoperability doesn't seem to be top of mind, according to the survey. Companies that provide interoperability solutions only got a few mentions.

What executives had to say

One executive at a large health system who was interviewed as part of the survey sees Amazon's technology expertise as a potential game changer for healthcare.

"Right now, we struggle with having the infrastructure in place to turn over large amounts of data, analyze the data, and do something with it. IT companies like Amazon can handle infrastructure pieces. That is a big benefit to us. Amazon has the size and scale to jump in, and they have the ability to really influence the healthcare industry as a whole. That is interesting at the macro level," said an executive in financial administration at a large integrated delivery network (IDN).

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Amazon has been making big healthcare moves, most notably in 2018 with its acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack. The tech company also sparked rampant speculation when it teamed up with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway on healthcare venture they've dubbed Haven

The tech giant also announced in 2018 that it planned to open primary care clinics at its Seattle headquarters, and the company is piloting a new virtual health service benefit for employees and their families in the Seattle region. Called Amazon Care, the virtual medical service went live earlier this month, according to CNBC.

Another interviewed healthcare executive was impressed by patient payment company Cedar's "slick" technology. 

"It can text links that allow patients to sign up for paperless statements, which the patients handle. If a claim were denied because of a patient, the Cedar product would tell the patient why the claim was denied. The product also tells patients whether there is something they can do to result in correct payments," said the vice president of revenue cycle at a large IDN, according to the KLAS report.

The chief medical information officer (CMO) at a large IDN was impressed with AI company Jvion’s ability to leverage social determinants of health, look outside of the electronic health record (EHR) and "incorporate what it finds into what is going on inside the hospital."

"Jvion looks at patient data in a multidimensional, statistical way, and that is something we haven’t done before," the executive said in the interview.