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This sector needs a jump-start with tech

The tech world is spurring an evolution in all of the industries it touches, but there's one sector that may seem to be upgrading itself at a snail's pace: health care.

"Today the health sector faces a daunting new digital challenge: unleashing the power of technology to fundamentally reinvent how care is delivered," according to the health research arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Now on one side, doctors have been digitizing patient records. On the other, patients themselves have been monitoring their activity, sleep and calorie burn using fitness trackers.

"There's so much data that is out there about each of us individually, but nobody's actually been able to pull up all my data and tell me how I'm going to be better and how am I going to live longer," said Nikesh Arora, SoftBank Corp. COO, in an interview with CNBC. "Nor have we taken data from all the people around here and been able to put it together and say, based on big data, here's what I think, why things are happening," Arora added.

The field that Arora is hinting at is predictive medicine, which, in the ideal case, would use health data and computer algorithms to predict and prevent illness and death, determining the most effective treatments for each individual patient.

That's not to say companies haven't caught on to the need for new health-care tech.

In the tech and telecom sectors, companies like Samsung, Verizon and AT&T have already ventured into medical technology including remote health monitoring systems, PricewaterhouseCoopers noted.

Doctor looking at xray on tablet
Mike Harrington | Getty Images

And Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Siemens are expected to spend the most on medical technology research and development, each in the billions of dollars through 2020, according to science market research firm Evaluate.

All told, the medical technology industry is expected to grow more than 4 percent annually in the next five years, and could be worth $477.5 billion by 2020, according Evaluate's research.

"In the new health economy, digitally enabled care is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a fundamental business imperative," according to the health research arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Health-care technologies are meant to work hand in hand with humans, making caregivers more efficient, according to that firm.

Health tech start-up execs, like Savvas Neophytou, co-founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group, maker of the Dr Now mobile health-care app, may even agree.

"No smartphone or no machine is going to replace the knowledge and skill of a good physician," Neophytou told CNBC in an interview earlier this month.