The blurring between technology and health sciences

As technological innovation grows, more health care companies will look like tech firms
The blurring between technology and health sciences

This year, we have combined two industries – technology and health sciences – into one Special Edition. While they are distinct, they also intersect in fundamental ways. 

Many of the legal practitioners who advise leading tech companies also advise health sciences businesses, whether on intellectual property or corporate or regulatory law. But it is not just for legal advisors that health and tech intersect – it is for the companies themselves.

“We’ve been seeing the crossover between information technology companies and healthcare-related companies applying AI and machine learning to solve healthcare-related problems,” says Chad Bayne at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. He says this intersection can range from medical devices to therapeutics to patient management and triage.

“Properly harnessing AI technology will have huge ramifications for improving our healthcare system, making it more efficient,” says Danielle Miller Olofsson at Stikeman Elliott LLP

In other words, health science companies are behaving more like technology companies, improving efficiencies on a large scale.

The reverse is occurring as well. Where health companies have always tackled complex regulatory requirements, purchasers are now integrating these requirements when negotiating their tech service contracts.

Large-scale technology users must now deal with tightening rules and regulations, and fitting their compliance needs into their contract negotiations with third-party vendors has become an essential part of the process, tech lawyers say.

As cybersecurity, privacy, and the overall robustness of technology and software systems become a focal point for regulators, and regulated companies, the language of the negotiated contracts becomes “much more granular,” says Imran Ahmad at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

“I think that for a long time, these contracts with third-party vendors were looked at through a business operations lens,” says Nathan Schissel at MLT Akins. “However, now it is also about meeting regulatory compliance standards. It will require a bit of a shift in thinking for both customers and service providers when they’re working on their contracts.”

This shift in thinking is happening on both sides of the health and technology aisle – and increasingly blurring boundaries between the two industries. The lawyers in these pages can provide clarity as companies navigate the shifts.