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Qualcomm developing mHealth systems

Smartphones and sensor to drive new models of healthcare

Qualcomm developing mHealth systems
Qualcomm is helping to develop new models of healthcare based on mobile, wireless devices, says McClellan.
Qualcomm developing mHealth systems
The HTC Zephyr device can provide real time, wireless monitoring of vital signs
Qualcomm developing mHealth systems
Biometric monitoring patches are becoming cheaper and smaller

Qualcomm is working with the healthcare sector to help develop health solutions for mobile devices.

The company is looking to its portfolio of processors and communications technology, along with third party biometric patch technology, to deliver mobile, wireless monitoring of health for a range of purposes.

Clint McClellan, senior director of market development, Health and Life Sciences at Qualcomm, said that the company was developing a number of models with its partners of how biometric data, transmitted to a mobile phone, could be used to improve healthcare.

"What we're working on is using cellular systems, devices and networks, to offer health services." McClellan said. "Those could be wellness services where you manage your health better, and you have the information now that you use on your phone, or it could be remote diagnostic equipment that's used where a caregiver or a doctor might want to have more information on a patient."

McClellan said that by using disposable biometric patches or other monitoring device, which can record data like ECG, heart rate, motion, temperature and hydration, which can then be transmitted wirelessly to a standard smartphone. The user can then see the data for themselves, to either be alerted to a possible health problem, or simply to monitor their well being.

The system could also be used by the healthcare sector to monitor patients remotely, for things like post-surgery aftercare or for screening programs.

"Right now, the whole medical system is episodic, you go in to see your doctor, you have ten minutes to tell him what's happened in the last three months. Now, you're going to have feedback systems that allow you to manage your health day-to-day, and the caregiver will have more information [on your health]," McClellan said.

There are already some commercially available systems that are in early adoption with the military and first responders, McClellan said, but the aim is to leverage cheaper patches, and cheaper phones, to make the technology ubiquitous.

Qualcomm has already co-operated with monitoring company Zephyr Technologies to develop a real time vital signs monitoring system based on an HTC HSPA high-speed handset, and running on Qualcomms Brew MP operating system. The system monitors heart rate, ECG, temperature, breath rate and activity, which is recorded through a biometric wrist strap that transmits the data to the handset using BlueTooth technology.

McClellan said that the cost of the monitoring patches is coming down, and the company selected the low-cost HTC smartphone to show that the mobile device, while smart, could also be cheap enough for everyone to be connected. With developments in sensor technology and the ability to make that data accessible online, different models for how the solutions could be used are emerging, such as remote monitoring of patients for doctors, allowing families to monitor elderly relatives, or services to support dieters by tracking calorie intake and exercise.

"Once this data is sent to the cloud, there is a lot you can do with it. All this new information, there are lots of business models in there, and these great new levels of information will help us manage our health better," he added.

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