Executives from a host of big-name wireless and other companies convened in San Diego yesterday as part of the World Economic Forum’s mHealth initiative. Among them: Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, West Wireless Health Institute and, of course, Qualcomm.
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is chairman of the WEF Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mobile Communications, and his San Diego-based company has a vested interest in seeing mHealth initiatives meet their full potential. After all, the chip maker stands to provide the enabling technology that resides in all kinds of devices, from glucose monitors to sensors that communicate information about heart conditions.
But it’s not all about technology – it’s also about changing behaviors and getting people to comply with their healthcare regime. “It’s engaging that person in the whole process – how are you going to get engagement, action – information that they can act upon,” Jacobs said in an interview between closed-door sessions of the forum.
Some of the big issues being discussed center around reimbursement and regulation, but another topic is privacy. Qualcomm is building chips now with a lot of security capability built into them; authentication has been a big part of the cellular industry since the early days. Now that people are storing more information on their phones, the trick is to have that information shared when it’s deemed proper.
One of the topics that attendees mulled is how that information gets shared. Many people are willing to share a certain amount of information about themselves on a social network and they’ll share their health information with another set of people. But if you should get into a car accident, you might want the attending emergency medical technician to be able to access your healthcare history – like the tests that were done in a recent physical. That’s where the financial aspect comes up again – if the EMT has access to your records, you don’t have to go through the same expensive tests again.
Interestingly, Jacobs notes that prevailing sentiment seems to be that a lot of solutions will make an impact on developing markets and then get introduced in developed markets because the latter are brimming in regulation that prevents real disruptive technology from making its mark.