In San Diego, CA, there is a great deal of buzz being generated over wireless medicine. Whether it is a monitoring system to continuously track vital signs that is connected via Bluetooth to your smart phone, a method of reminding people to take their medication, encouraging them to engage in healthy behaviors or alerting doctors and nurses when problems surface, these new applications are going to be not only wireless bandwidth intensive, but also will require high availability and ubiquitous access. These are definitely attributes that can be handled by cloud computing and will be the cornerstone requirements for relevant applications as the population continues to age. One can see and feel the excitement of Mobile medicine here.
While it is easy to see that mobile medicine as described above can take off as a relevant application, it is also easy to see how these applications and technologies can also be extended into rural areas that rely on telemedicine to maintain health of the citizens or to developing countries where even basic health care is often out of reach. This is all well and good; however, as I have pointed out before in this blog – understanding the business model and how it will be successful is a necessary first step.
There are some basic questions that need to be answered:
- Who will pay for these services, applications and networks? Certainly the technology is available today but it is not free. Someone has to pay for it. Will it be the patients, doctors, the hospitals, or the insurance companies? There is an entire discussion around this point that will also lead into the health care debate and cost containment debate.
- Even if we get the funding figured out and businesses can make money at it (a true driver for entrepreneurial endeavors), how do we get people to use the services? A former colleague of mine from Mexico often pointed out that the people who really need these applications are often the ones without the discipline to benefit from these applications.
- Should we get them to finally give it a try, how do we preserve privacy and avoid unnecessary intrusions. This will be especially important as cloud computing becomes the norm for the ubiquitous access. The advantage of Cloud computing is also the potential danger. Any company that adopts these new applications and uses cloud computing will have to also adopt a security framework similar to the X.805 from ITU.
These questions, in my mind, are not roadblocks. They are stepping-stones to a differentiated service; the company that solves these questions is the company that will be a leader in the mobile medicine space.