Qualcomm is backing a health-based MVNO called LifeComm which will is set to be launched some time in September (link to post on Engadget Mobile).
There’s tons of exciting work being done using mobiles to tackle health-related problems in thedeveloping world (Technology, Health and Development is a great resource for news on this), but there are plenty of people right here in the ‘developed’ USA who could benefit from a mobile device and companion service that provided real-time monitoring and instant access to information or health-care providers. There is certainly a market for such offerings, and given the collective health of our population, unfortunately, it’s not only the aging baby boomers who stand to benefit. For example, the GlucoPhone (shown here), developed by HealthPia America at least a year ago, incorporates a blood glucose meter on top of an LG 5200 chassis, and provides the ability to transmit information in real time to an online database or via SMS to a recipient of the user’s choice. I’m not sure if/when it actually shipped, as I’ve never seen one in the wild.
An MVNO implies some kind of ecosystem which includes custom hardware, software, and a service component, all working together to provide an optimized experience to the user, be it in social networking, music, or health. Given the high mortality rate for MVNO’s, I hope this can manage to work out a successful business model. It will be interesting to seehow they marry hardware + software + service to deliver what cannot be delivered solely by a third party iPhone app (i.e.software only), a glucometer (i.e. hardware only) or a direct line to your physicial (i.e. service only). I’m especially excited to see the potential for gaming here (a la GlucoBoy), with ubiquitous access to one’s health information via a mobile device creating heretofore unexplored, casual (and fun!) touchpoints with one’s health.
Another thing that’s somewhat disconcerting in all this is the implications for personal privacy and the extent to which I may lose control over my health-related data. If my device is connected all the time, and it knows about where I am, what my blood pressure or heart rate is, or what my blood sugar levels are, I want to be unequivocally sure that this data isn’t silently being uploaded to some server somewhere, where it can come back to haunt me when it comes time to file a claim with my insurance company! Are there going to be any dodgy clauses lurking in some dark corner of my LifeComm EULA that compromises my exclusive ownership of my health data?
(”Well, in retrospect, Mr. Greenblatt, it looks like you should have opted for the small order of french fries at Epic Burger last week. Given your existing condition and your recent behavior, insurance won’t cover this bypass surgery. So how would you like to pay? Cash, credit or should I just add this on to your next LifeComm bill?“)
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