Qualcomm: Mobile health market faces data-privacy hurdle

Qualcomm: Mobile health market faces data-privacy hurdle

03 MAR 2014

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: Europe’s strict rules on data privacy could stymie the introduction of valuable mobile health services, Qualcomm Life acknowledged during a presentation at MWC.

“Once you’ve gathered the data you need to provide insight, and analytics becomes the big opportunity, but that assumes we can figure out the privacy and ownership rights, which is a big challenge,” said Rick Valencia (pictured), senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Life.

As noted by Timotheus Hottges – chief executive of Deutsche Telekom – during a keynote at Congress, current legislation in Germany does not allow operators to analyse big data, which prevents companies from introducing a variety of analytics services.

Addressing mobile health specifically, Don Jones, vice president of global strategy and market development for Qualcomm Life, believes the solution is for policymakers to pass legislation that makes individuals the owners of the data about their personal health.

“Individuals could then license the data to healthcare providers,” he said.

Asked whether such licensing would make the cost of developing big-data services uneconomical, Jones said it would depend on how licences were designed for the healthcare providers.

One consideration for governments would be to withhold treatments arising from big-data insights if an individual refuses to share his or her personal details, although many would deem this unethical. “These are some of the big questions coming out of big data,” said Jones.

Qualcomm Life, the mobile health division of chipset vendor Qualcomm, has developed a platform and hub – branded 2net – that is able to connect an array of medical devices, including blood-pressure monitors and activity trackers, to the cloud.

The company also announced last week its integration of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) with the 2net Hub, making it one of the few wireless gateways approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that is able to connect to BLE-enabled medical devices.

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