San Diego-based telecommunications giant Qualcomm announced this past week that it had acquired HealthyCircles, a coordinated care platform that connects healthcare professionals with patients and their families. This is the latest in a series of partnerships, investments, and acquisitions that Qualcomm has made over the past few years, including an early investment in AliveCor before the mHealth Summit in December 2011 as well as a partnership with WebMD announced a few weeks ago. All of this is linked to Qualcomm’s flagship medical product, their 2Net Platform which they describe as a “cloud-based system designed to be universally-interoperable with different medical devices and applications, enabling end-to-end wireless connectivity while allowing medical device users and their physicians or caregivers to easily access biometric data.” We had the opportunity to interview Qualcomm Life General Manager, Rick Valencia, as well as HealthyCircles Founder and now Qualcomm Life’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. James Mault, about the acquisition and what it means for Qualcomm.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What was Qualcomm’s motivation for acquiring HealthCircles?
Rick Valencia: This was one we couldn’t pass up as we’ve known Jim [Mault] for a year-and-a-half now. We knew this area of coordinated care is growing and thought that HealthyCircles was the right business at the right time to combine with our 2Net Platform. It’s very similar and allows us to continue being a neutral, Switzerland-like enabler and supporter of the mobile health ecosystem. Now that we have HealthyCircles on board we are able to do this with a lot more than biometric data, but also other patient data that is capable of being stored on the HealthyCircles platform. We can create meaningful ties between the hospital, providers, patients, family, pharmacy, and all of the people helping to provide and manage care.
Medgadget: Jim, how about HealthyCircles’ motivation for getting integrated with Qualcomm?
Dr. James Mault: Qualcomm Life has done a brilliant job of herding the cat, you could say. In the past we just haven’t had a viable option to bring the data piece into HealthyCircles, but with Qualcomm’s 2Net platform we can collect the data and get it up in the cloud. The HealthyCircles piece compliments what Qualcomm has been doing in this regard. As a budding clinician, you will appreciate that generally no single data piece – whether its biometric or HPI [history of present illness] – can give a complete picture of what is going on with the patient. Qualcomm can now combine its device data with our data such as medication history, labs, care team data entry, and patient symptomatic self-assessment to create a robust dataset for ACOs, complex care management, and care transitions.
Medgadget: About how large is the 2Net platform now, in terms of the ecosystem you support?
Valencia: Though we can’t give specific numbers out because as a publicly traded company we need to be careful about what we divulge, I can say that we have roughly 250 members within our 2Net ecosystem. These include companies that are at some stage of deployment on the platform.
Medgadget: How far does the 2Net platform currently extend, and with HealthyCircles will it extend even further? One question that’s often asked is whether these types of collaborations survive outside of the Golden State – how would you respond to that?
Valencia: It’s true that the hub of innovation tends to be in California and that San Diego is ideally structured for that. We have a strong biotech and telecom presence, so it makes sense that we are leaders in digital health as well. In terms of our reach, we have customers not just in “developed markets” like the US and Europe, but all over the world. We are trying to build a universal offering that has no boundaries.
Mault: I would agree that healthcare is local, and maybe go so far as to say that it’s hyperlocal. Rick described the platform from a macro level so I’ll delve to the micro level. Each individual patient has a different set of providers involved in their care. When a patient goes to the hospital, he or she has individualized needs. For example, one patient may need a social care worker and a primary care physician whereas another will need a specialist and a home health care nurse. What HealthyCircles and 2Net provide is the ability to have a coordinated care approach, almost like a patient-centered health information exchange (HIE). That can include not only the main care team that’s based where the patient lives, e.g. in California, but also the patient’s daughter in Arizona and son in Chicago. We need to keep in mind all of these voices that go into a patient’s healthcare.
Medgadget: Do you have any additional comments?
Valencia: I would like to add that I think this acquisition brings Qualcomm not only great technology, but also great talent in Jim and his team. It’s another sign of commitment from Qualcomm that we’re dedicated to building something special in healthcare. We have a bigger commitment to go beyond being a great technology company and instead to also being a great company within the healthcare realm.
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