Tech is good medicine for heath care acquisitionsThe U.S. department of labor forecasts that the healthcare industry will add 4 million new jobs by 2016.\nThat should be a daunting prospect for anyone working in that industry \u2014 particularly given that the rising cost of healthcare (18 percent of GDP in 2016, up from 10 percent 30 years ago) means that employees don\u2019t come cheap.\nTechnology is often prescribed to cut labor costs and improve productivity \u2014 and rather than develop their own cures, many health care businesses are choosing to acquire them.\nThe potential side effects of swallowing technology startups include improved profitability and saving on IT and compliance costs.\nBut which technology companies make the best medicine?\nIn the absence of any randomized double-blind placebo control studies of the question, technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners asked 100 senior corporate executives and investors operating in the health care space which two health care technologies they thought made the most attractive acquisition targets. Here are the eight most popular answers.\nNote that not all technologies will be right for you, and some may cause unpleasant side effects. Discuss potential acquisitions with your clinician.Mobile technologyImage by Getty ImagesMobile technology was cited by half of all respondents, and that makes sense given the emphasis that phone manufacturers such Apple are placing on gathering health information from their users and feeding it back to researchers.\nPhones can already monitor patients\u2019 heart rate and track their activity thanks to wearables such as the Fitbit, Apple Watch or Samsung Gear. Soon phones will be able to monitor blood pressure too. But the potential of mobile apps is not limited to monitoring vital signs: There\u2019s also room for efficiency gains in filling prescriptions, booking appointments \u2014 and perhaps even in conducting consultations remotely.Data analyticsImage by Getty ImagesOne of the big advantages of electronic medical records (EMRs) is that they transform the traditional stack of spidery scrawl into a lake of data that\u2019s easy to search and analyze \u2014 but how many companies are actually doing that? Put EMRs together with patient-generated health data from mobile apps and the possibilities for generating insights from data are even greater. But there\u2019s also useful data to be analyzed within the health care industry itself, as drug company Merck found when it looked inside its ERP system.BlockchainImage by Getty ImagesSometimes seen as IT snake oil, applications built on blockchains really can cure some of the ills of the health care industry. By creating a distributed, immutable database of health care providers\u2019 information, they can help get the data out of providers\u2019 proprietary databases and into an interoperable format. That alone could cut costs and speed treatment for many. There are also applications in smart health contracts and genomic sequencing. And with blockchain infrastructure available from the likes of IBM and Microsoft, it\u2019s much easier to take this area seriously.WearablesImage by Getty ImagesWearable sensors and trackers were named by a quarter of respondents in the West Monroe survey of which technologies health care execs wanted to acquire. While their use was initially plagued by a surfeit of data that just wasn\u2019t getting analyzed, that\u2019s changing with the availability of new analytics tools. But it\u2019s important to figure out what you want to do with all that data before you start collecting it.Telehealth toolsImage by Getty ImagesWith medicine becoming increasingly specialized, it\u2019s sometimes difficult for patients to find a local expert in whatever ails you. That\u2019s where telehealth tools come in. Whether it\u2019s a simple videoconference between patient and care provider, or a device providing diagnostic information remotely, IT can do away with distance to the nearest doctor. Linked with mobile technology and wearables, telemedicine has great potential.RoboticsImage by Getty ImagesWhile scalpel-wielding robots may be some people\u2019s worst nightmare, they may also be the future of surgery: They don\u2019t get tired, they\u2019re easy to sterilize, and they can work through minute \u201ckeyhole\u201d incisions that would be beyond the capability of human surgeons. But they\u2019re still dogged by high capital and operating costs and, in most cases, the need for a skilled surgeon as operator, so many hospitals can\u2019t yet afford them. Still, advances in artificial intelligence such as machine vision and deep learning may improve the ability of surgical robots to determine what to do without the need for a human operator.Artificial intelligenceImage by Getty ImagesOnly one in six respondents to the West Monroe questionnaire on technology acquisition targets said they would consider buying an artificial intelligence company \u2014 about as many were interested in robotics. IBM has been promoting its Watson AI as an aid in selecting cancer treatment, and in radiology, but there\u2019s also a role for AI in more mundane activities such as claim processing and customer service.Virtual and augmented realityImage by Getty ImagesSurgeons may not be ready to hand their scalpel to an AI-controlled robot, but they can benefit from AI in other ways. French company Qwant is using machine vision to overlay 3D medical imagery on patients\u2019 bodies in the operating theater. This augmented reality tool allows surgeons to visualize what lies behind the tissue they\u2019re cutting into, avoiding blood vessels or delicate membranes. Virtual reality can also be used to diagnose and to treat patients, or to train medical staff.