athenahealth, Inc (ATHN), MAKO Surgical Corp. (MAKO): Three Disruptive Technologies Reshaping Health Care Today

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Bearish options action in athenahealth as shares slideLike it or not, our world is constantly changing, as technological advances grow ever more frequent. While some folks may lament the loss of seemingly simpler days past, the fact remains that companies around the globe are working hard to make a positive impact on the the way we live.

To be sure, in few industries are these changes more apparent than health care, where our very lives are often at stake. Here are three disruptive technologies, then, which are in the process of effectively reshaping health care as we know it:

Your health is in the cloud(s)
First of all, health care companies are currently taking advantage of cloud computing in ways we could have never dreamed only a few decades ago.

Take athenahealth, Inc (NASDAQ:ATHN), for instance, which focuses entirely on developing cloud-based tools for streamlining medical practice management, electronic health records, patient communications, care coordination, and account collection.

Unsurprisingly, demand for its services is strong, as athenahealth, Inc (NASDAQ:ATHN) currently boasts nearly 41,000 medical providers on its network, up from around 38,000 in January. As a result, athenahealth, Inc (NASDAQ:ATHN) ranked fourth on Forbes’ list of America’s 25 fastest-growing tech companies in 2012, following 13 straight years of achieving at least 30% top-line growth.

Or consider Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), which published a white paper last year outlining how health-care companies can take advantage of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Web Services “to power information processing systems that facilitate HIPAA and HITECH compliance.”

Incidentally, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) not only uses AWS to power its own web properties and handle traffic for sites including Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Yelp, reddit, and Pinterest, but also currently counts at least a dozen different health-related organizations among its list of AWS clients. Most notably, these include CloudPrime, Global Data Systems, Nimbus Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), the Praekelt Foundation, Toshiba Medical, Harvard Medical School, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Sage Bionetworks.

Any time, any place
Next, where would cloud computing be without the meteoric rise of mobile apps?

Remember, in March, athenahealth also finalized its $293 million acquisition of mobile health pioneer Epocrates, whose point-of-care mobile app has been downloaded by more than a million health-care professionals for their iPhones, iPads, Android, or Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) devices.

Of course, Epocrates isn’t without competition: WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD)‘s own Medscape app has also been downloaded more than 3 million times and, according to Medscape, is now used by half of all U.S. physicians, and three out of four U.S. medical students.

In addition, like Epocrates, WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) offers a variety of other mobile applications focusing on general health, pregnancy and child care, allergies, and chronic pain management.

From an investment perspective, shares of WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) shot up by as much as 20% in a single day last month after the company crushed analysts’ estimates for both revenue and earnings per share, largely thanks to a strong showing from its public portal ads and sponsorships. Sure enough, WebMD took the opportunity to highlight the fact that more than a third of all page views are now originating from its mobile sources.

Domo arigato, medical roboto
Finally, and now more than ever, the field of robotics is also accelerating its march into health care.

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