Qualcomm Helps Bring Star Trek Technology to Healthcare

By Daniel R. Matlis

In 1966 the Star Trek television series introduced us to the Medical Tricorder – a hand held device used by doctors to diagnose diseases and collect vital medical information about a patient.   Forty-five years later this object of an active imagination may in fact become reality.


The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation recently announced the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize – a $10 million global competition to develop devices that will give consumers access to their state of health by using mobile technology.  Some of the technology needed to meet this goal has already been developed.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Rick Valencia, VP and GM of Qualcomm Life about the Tricorder X Prize, Qualcomm Life’s 2netTM Platform and its impact on Healthcare.

“Up to 90% of health care spending today goes to managing chronic diseases,” commented Valencia.   There is a shift to a new model of health care delivery based on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  The ACO mission is to keep patients healthier (and out of hospitals) through coordinated care.  Mobile communication devices play an important role in supporting this shift and making this goal more realistic.  “Hospital readmissions are a $25B problem in this country,” added Rick – enabling mobile devices to transmit medical data to health care practitioners on a periodic basis would enable early intervention.   Lower readmission costs will enable the market to support transformation to new health care models.

“Qualcomm’s 2net Platform and Hub were developed to be used in connection with wireless medical devices to support this transformation, “Rick stated.  It is important to note that both the 2net Platform and Hub are listed with the FDA as Class I Medical Device Data Systems (MDDS), which makes Qualcomm a medical device manufacturer.  The 2net Platform allows medical devices to connect via USB, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to so that their data can be available across the continuum of care – an issue with managing chronic diseases.

“The beauty of the 2net ecosystem is that it provides medical device manufacturers with a one stop shop for wireless enablement of their devices.  It is also an open forum that encourages the creation of new healthcare apps,” noted Rick.  Using the 2net technology, data could be aggregated and analyzed for trends or anomalies.  The Platform connects patients with caregivers, family, and clinicians providing timely feedback.

Rick also pointed out that there are several benefits to device manufacturers around implementing this new technology:

  • It provides a means of getting data out of devices outside of the clinical setting:
  • It creates an interoperable ecosystem with medical devices, mobile medical applications and health service providers like hospitals; and
  • It provides system support for tracking and tracing.

“Wireless technology is the biggest platform on earth.  We need to leverage it in health care,” declared Rick.  That is reason why the Qualcomm Foundation joined with X PRIZE to challenge the industry to develop a global customer platform.

I concur with Rick, mobile devices are the most exiting tools available today to improve health care.

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