Qualcomm invests in Europe


Qualcomm: Mobilizing healthcare through LifeComm
Qualcomm has been making some bold moves recently, including today's announcement of a plan to invest €100 million in European wireless startups: The company's influence abroad is nothing like the mind power it commands in the U.S., so seeding that market is key. But last week Qualcomm made a big push into the healthcare arena with news that it is prepping to launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) called LifeComm, centered on healthcare and broader wellness, fitness and health maintenance. As we noted last week, the MVNO will primarily target women aged 40 to 65. Qualcomm, however, has yet to disclose what specific services and applications LifeComm will carry, so here are a few suggestions for Qualcomm of healthcare service providers that are pioneering mobile-enabled applications: 

Qualcomm already works with medical device company CardioNet, which uses Qualcomm technology to transmit data from its heart monitoring device to physicians. As the number one killer in the U.S., heart disease will surely get some attention from LifeComm's application developers.

A Scottsdale, AZ-based vendor called MedApps recently tested technology that wirelessly transmits diabetics' blood sugar levels from their mobile phone to a monitoring server. The system's server monitors blood glucose levels, which are transmitted from the patients blood glucose monitor to their mobile phone, and from their phone to their wireless network. The server then connects a call to the patient to ask a few health questions if the level is outside of the appropriate range.

Boston healthcare giant Partners HealthCare recently monitored employee health by tracking high blood pressure online through wireless cuff sensors. The study had half of the 400 employees measure their blood pressure twice a week, using wired cuffs which transmitted the readings wirelessly to researchers. Researchers called employees whose blood pressure was particularly high; otherwise, employees were offered automated advice each week via a secure website. 

Finally, San Francisco-based mobile applications developer BeWell Mobile partnered with Indian technology firm Wipro Technology to offer mobile phone-based disease management services. The platform includes a provider interface allowing clinicians and other professional users to set up individual patient applications, and a separate patient interface integrating a diary, reminders and reports. BeWell also recently conducted an asthma management pilot with the San Mateo Medical Center and Clinics and a diabetes management pilot with another hospital, Kaiser Permanent. Last June, San Mateo had seen no ER visits by teen asthma sufferers, as compared with the norm of 25 visits per 10,000 children.

While most of these applications would apply to the age bracket Qualcomm said it would pursue with its healthcare-based MVNO, those that don't would apply to their spouses, children or grandchildren. And while Qualcomm did not specifically reference its EVDO Rev. A powered robotic doctor/nurse, which debuted at CTIA earlier this year, here's hoping the luxury data plan for LifeComm includes one. -Brian