Qualcomm CEO Points to Wellness and Chronic Care Management as Big Opportunities in Mobile Health

Xconomy San Diego — 

Like most advances in the life sciences, ensuring reimbursement by medical insurance providers and getting new wireless devices through the government regulatory process will be crucial barriers for the emerging wireless health sector to overcome, according to Qualcomm chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs.

Jacobs, who was key to organizing a mobile health summit held in San Diego last week, was asked about what was called the mHealth Summit during a press conference that Qualcomm held in conjunction with its Brew MP mobile developers conference. Jacobs told reporters he wanted to bring leaders of the wireless and healthcare industry together to discuss mobile health technology in his role as chairman of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Wireless Communications, a committee organized by the Davos, Switzerland-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

About 75 academic, industry, and policy leaders attended the one-day summit, which Jacobs says was intended to help decide “what needs to be moved faster?” in terms of advancing the field of wireless health. Attendees included academic experts, government officials, and industry experts from Medtronic, Dell, Cisco, the French telecom Orange, and AT&T. Amid some grousing over the WEF’s decision to exclude the media from its mobile summit, the forum also posted 10 in-house video interviews with participants on its website, including an interview with Jacobs, as well as a more-polished video overview of Jacobs’s perspective on the wireless health sector.

“With 5 billion users on cell phones, it really is humanity’s most pervasive platform, and I think most people would agree that healthcare is probably humanity’s most pervasive problem,” Jacobs says in the interview. He also identifies “wellness” and “chronic care management” as the two biggest opportunities in wireless health where the cell phone and related mobile devices can help the most. In particular, Jacobs says chronic care management accounts for “75 percent of the healthcare budget” and that mobile devices can help cut care management costs by both monitoring patients and reminding them to stay on their treatment regimen.

At San Diego’s new West Wireless Health Institute, the chief medical and science officer, Joe Smith, also offered some observations following the WEF’s mobile summit.

“Having wireless health be a core workstream for the World Economic Forum is a clear signal of the pivotal role for wireless solutions in the near-term evolution of healthcare,” Smith said. “It is no accident that the WEF had its meeting on wireless healthcare here in San Diego—this city is emerging as the center of innovation in health care. The ancient Greeks had a word for what is now happening in wireless healthcare—kairos—the perfect or supreme moment of relevance…it’s only fitting that the WEF should take on wireless health care here and now.”