Earlier this week, Qualcomm made three big announcements in the area of wireless medical devices. In advance of the news, I had the chance to speak with Don Jones, the company’s vice president of business development and global strategy and market development, who walked me through the details and shared an interesting take on how the medical device excise tax might affect wireless medical device concepts.
On Monday, the wireless telecommunications company launched Qualcomm Life, a wholly owned subsidiary that will take over operations of Qualcomm Wireless Health and focus on wireless health solutions.
Qualcomm Life’s first offerings, also unveiled Monday, are the 2net platform and hub (video below), which are designed to facilitate the transfer, storage, conversion, and display of health metrics from wireless medical devices.
The hub, a nightlight-like device that can detect medical devices with Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi, or ANT+ capabilities, automatically transmits data from nearby devices to the cloud-based platform. The idea, Jones says, is to provide an easy way for patients and providers to have access to health data.
“Patients can literally go home and plug the hub into their own home, and their devices are connected,” he says.
Qualcomm also announced that it’s establishing a $100 million venture fund, the Qualcomm Life Fund, dedicated to furthering the company’s investments in wireless health. Jones told me the move is partly in response to the dearth of capital available for medical device companies. Qualcomm, he says, is also optimistic that 2012 will be a pivotal year for wireless health concepts.
“The timing is right,” Jones says. “This area is going to take off.”
I also asked if the medical device excise tax, set to go into effect in 2013, is a concern as Qualcomm is set to make such a big investment in the device space. While Jones says no tax is helpful, he did downplay its potential impact on firms focusing on wireless medical devices.
“Most of these offerings are far, far less expensive than traditional medical devices, so the tax is less likely to have an impact on them,” Jones says.