Qualcomm Life is a division of the company that was born out of the recognition that San Diego is the launching point for a lot of mobile health due to the presence of so many mobile and medical companies all looking to pioneer mobile health (mHealth).
Qualcomm has entered the fray by utilizing a lot of their original business which actually propelled the company into the trajectory it is in today. That business is currently known as QES or formerly known as their Omnitracs business. Omnitracs was the fundamental reason for the creation of the CDMA network that eventually enabled Qualcomm to license their CDMA technologies to the world and to create the company that Qualcomm is today. Over the last 25 years, Qualcomm has built up a significant global network to support this large enterprise with significant network infrastructure.
This robust and significant network is what enabled Amazon to launch their first kindle using Qualcomm’s global network without any downtime and with absolute seamless operation. Since Qualcomm essentially operates as an MVNO for their customers, they are able to deliver private and secure network access while simultaneously delivering decent coverage and access to data. Qualcomm’s network is so reliable, in fact, that during the power outage that struck all of San Diego county they were still fully operational due to backups. They have a very robust system of redundancies and procedures in place to effectively handle all problems that get thrown at them. This is mainly possible because they have NOCs in San Diego, India and Taipei which effectively manage the global network with a fully staffed NOC somewhere in the world 24/7. These three only represent the total of all eight NOCs that exist in Qualcomm’s network worldwide.
So, why all this talk about networks and not enough talk about healthcare or hardware? Because Qualcomm Life’s business model is to be the enabling network that connects new medical devices (hardware) to the healthcare providers or services via their platform and network. This network platform is known as 2net. The goal of creating 2net is to enable greater access to healthcare when it’s convenient to the doctor and patient.
The way that the device manufacturers and healthcare providers are able to connect their sensors and devices to their networks easily is through Qualcomm’s 2net hub which they’ve devised. This device acts as a transmitter of medical data from the devices or sensors that someone may have implemented using the 2net platform and then sends to data to the appropriate location where it can be analyzed, reviewed or stored by the company using the device on the patient. The 2net hub is not directly manufactured or sold by Qualcomm, but they do enable contract manufacturers to sell the hubs to their customers to make the entire procedure of collecting and sending it off medical data painless.
The 2net platform and gateways are FDA-listed Class 1 medical devices and data systems. As such, they are very easy for medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers to implement with minimal efforts. Additionally, the hub allows for a wide array of wireless connectivity supporting ANT+, Bluetooth 2.1, Wifi, USB and many others. As such, their connect API is fairly open and is designed to promote more implementation for different uses, including exercise monitoring.
Entra’s MyGlucoHealth monitor which is a bluetooth enabled glucose monitor
Qualcomm invited people like Eric Topol who is part of Scripps Digital Medicine and is working with Qualcomm to help implement more wireless health technologies. He was followed by partner companies that Qualcomm is also invested in including Alan Portela of AirStrip, Dr. Gunnar Trommer of Sotera Wireless and Rick Strobridge of Entra Health Systems. Each company provided a unique view on how 2net either enabled their technology to become truly mobile or they talked about how implementing 2net will make their mHealth business much more powerful. These companies would enable patients to effectively wear full vital sign monitors wirelessly and to allow someone to monitor those vitals wirelessly. They also would allow patients to take their necessary tests on a daily basis and allow for a healthcare provider to monitor that data and help the patient stay healthy without the need of having to go to a doctor to get a test.
Sotera Wireless’ ViSi wireless vital monitoring system
Qualcomm’s business model in healthcare is not to build devices (even though they want someone else to develop, build and sell with their Tricorder X-Prize) or even sell full software and hardware suites like they may have in the past with other businesses. Qualcomm’s main goal with 2net is to be a stable backbone and gateway to that backbone to enable device manufacturers and healthcare providers to easily and securely transfer their data to and from where it is needed. By focusing on more of a subscription and licensing model, Qualcomm is reducing their liability with this business while also possibly enabling quite a large amount of revenue for a business that gets most of its infrastructure form already existing Qualcomm business units, which significantly reduces operating expenditures but does somewhat complicate accounting procedures for both businesses.
One interesting aspect about 2net that hadn’t been touched on by Qualcomm or any of the device or software manufacturers is that 2net is not only an enabling technology, but it is also a deterring technology. 2net is a deterring technology because it is such a vital part of making mHealth feasible that if a company were to try to rip off a medical device and sell it as a competitor, they wouldn’t get far without signing up for a subscription to the 2net service. By making 2net such an integral part of the mHealth platforms of the future, Qualcomm is not only profiting off of their ability to provide a stable gateway and network but also as a potential protector of IP, not enabling knock-offs to compete with their own customers.