Wireless Health Blog

Health Care Cyberwar Wages On. Health Care Cyberwar Wages On.

12 May 2016, Written by Rick Valencia, President

2015 may be forever remembered as the year of the ‘health care hack’. As early as February, major health insurer Anthem revealed that hackers broke into a database containing the personal information of nearly 80 million consumers.[1] After only a few more months, another 20 million records were compromised, bringing the total to 100 million by mid-2015 alone.[2]

Since 2009, more than 1,100 separate heath care breaches have compromised data affecting more than 120 million people – or about one in three Americans.[3] Hacks in banking and retail receive a lot of press, but health care remains the #1 breached industry.[4]

Even more chilling are the tactics hackers are using. Instead of stealing patient information, new methods include infecting computer systems with ‘crypto-ransomware’, which locks down data while hackers ask for a ransom. Already, this type of techno-terrorism has affected multiple hospitals in California, Kentucky, and Maryland.

Data security has emerged as the hottest topic in health care and is one of the key themes we’ll be addressing at this year’s Connect 2016 conference [Learn More]. As stewards of health care data, these vulnerabilities can cost companies both in reputation and affect the bottom line. In 2014, an estimated 85% of large health organizations experienced a data breach with 18% of breaches costing more than $1 million to remediate.[5] In 2015, the price paid for each lost or stolen health care record was $363, making health care #1 per capita cost industry.[6]

Another risk lies in regulation. Data breaches can result in fines and sanctions for your company, as well as open the door to more stringent regulation. This can put an entire sector on the defensive. It pays to be proactive. For device manufacturers, this means ‘defense in depth’ design that spans infrastructure, people, and processes. And requires the deployment of rigorous risk management programs to examine and test for vulnerabilities across the entire chain. For providers, segmentation and device management are critical. Device fleets must be standardized and kept current behind firewalls and on networks separated from key medical and personal data.

At Qualcomm Life, we are tackling this issue head-on by leveraging Qualcomm’s 30-year history in connectivity and security. Our platforms are uniquely designed and engineered to provide the secure infrastructure needed to ensure data is fluid and accessible, yet protected from exposure and risk. Our medical-grade network is a powerful combination of encryption technologies, restricted access facilities, and dedicated, highly trained teams. By controlling the hardware design, software, communications profile, and certifications, we enable secure and reliable sharing, transmission, and cloud-based storage of vital health information. This allows our ecosystem members to rapidly scale and specialize in their health care vertical, while integrating securely for greater clinical context and improved outcomes [Learn more about our 2net medical-grade platform].

I hope you will join me at Connect 2016, our fifth annual connected health conference, where industry leaders from across health care will meet at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego August 30th – 31st, to discuss data security, emerging trends, real-world health care business insights, and so much more.

[1] The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2015 “Health Insurer Anthem hit by Hackers”. Anna Wilde Mathews and Danny Yadron. http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-insurer-anthem-hit-by-hackers-1423103720.

[2] IBM Security Incidents data from Jan. 1, 2015 to Oct. 31, 2015.

[3] According to Department of Health Human Services.

[4] Symantec 2015 Report 21347932. Internet Security Threat Report Volume 20. 2015.

[5] PwC, “Global State of Information Security Survey 2015,” September 2014.

[6] 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis Ponemon Institute, May 2015.

HIMSS 2016 Key Takeaway: A View from the CMO HIMSS 2016 Key Takeaway: A View from the CMO

14 March 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

Five years ago at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference, the prominent theme was “meaningful use,” and companies across the exhibit hall touted their functionality in the space. Naturally, over the last few years, the trends at HIMSS have migrated toward other buzz-worthy phrases like “care coordination” and “interoperability.” You can see this come to life by simply looking down one of the aisles on the show floor, where twirling banners and prominent signage hype these themes.


This year at HIMSS, a predominant theme and discussion point was population health management – a big catalyst of this is the transition to value-based payment models where clinicians are given financial incentives for outcomes, like lower blood pressure. The value-based payment model has turned the health care industry on its head, but it also represents an evolution in the way care is given, by focusing on outcomes and taking advantage of technological innovations in care delivery.


Interestingly, this year’s 2016 Cost Accounting Survey from HIMSS found that only 3 percent of providers believe their organization is highly prepared to make the transition from fee-for-service to a value-based payment system, but 45 percent noted that they are participating in some form of alternative payment model.



This indicates that providers know that that the shift from fee-for-service is imminent –coming within the decade for sure – but organizations are still trying to figure out how to structure for success. The discussion on this topic was prevalent across HIMSS this year and the truth is, while technology is a piece of the puzzle, one of the biggest challenges is adopting the processes and protocols to support these alternative payment models. The biggest hurdle is more about change management.


A great example of a new health plan in the vein of value-based care is the United Healthcare Motion program which was announced at HIMSS. The Motion program is designed to help participants become healthier and more active, and subsidize the cost of their health care as a result. Data acquired from participants’ wearable devices can earn them Health Reimbursement Account credits that can total up to $1,460 per year, based on their usage.



The significance here is that for the first time in history, we have the sufficient enough medical-grade data to build and launch an entirely new plan design predicated on data from a wearable device. This is a significant breakthrough for our industry, and a sign that we are indeed moving toward value-based care.


What trends caught your eye this year at HIMSS? Connect with us on LinkedIn or on Twitter @QualcommLife for more.

The Makings of Medical-Grade The Makings of Medical-Grade

10 March 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

In my last post we explored the idea of “intelligent care” – personalized and continuous care supported by technology that helps health care professionals aggregate and better examine patient data. Intelligent care will unlock data and streamline care, but it cannot work without medical-grade technology. Medical-grade technology is incredibly important to safeguard patient data, as health care is one of the most targeted industries in the world. In 2014, 37% of reported breaches were in health care, and the largest number of disclosed breaches overall were in the health care sector.

Security and Privacy

When we talk about the term medical-grade it seems like an obvious way to describe the way we connect devices that track and analyze patient data to diagnose us. However, with the rise of so many devices on the market capturing health data, such as activity trackers that count your steps, it can be a challenge to decipher between which systems are consumer-grade versus medical-grade. And it’s an important distinction.


While activity and fitness trackers are useful as far as encouraging consumers to become more cognizant and involved in their health, most are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medical devices. Since the devices are consumer-controlled, users can edit, modify or change the data being collected, sometimes leading to incorrect entries, accidental transcription errors and more. Furthermore, there’s no assurance of privacy or security and many are also not compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires the protection and confidential management of health information.


By contrast, medical-grade devices and wearables require rigorous regulatory review and approval from the FDA, making the data that they emit certifiable and more reliable for health care professionals to make informed interventions. Certifying these wearables as medical-grade goes beyond just the device itself, it encompasses the digital network that supports the data transmission, aggregation and storage, meaning that once the medical-grade device captures data from the patient is it transmitted through a secure and certified wireless network.


Once the data is captured from the medical-grade device, it is delivered into a patient record system, which doctors utilize to make important diagnoses and treatment decisions based on the information generated. With medical-grade devices, health care professionals can rely upon the data for life-saving medical decisions.


Eventually, we won’t have to talk about the importance of medical-grade connectivity and integration solutions; as they will be a normal part of how we manage our health. But in the interim, which medical-grade devices do you think are the most transformative? Tell us in the comments below!

What Makes Care Intelligent? What Makes Care Intelligent?

22 February 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

In just one week, more than 40,000 health care professionals will gather in Las Vegas for HIMSS 2016. Looking back over the last several years of this conference, there’s been a distinct shift in the conversation, from discussions centered around documentation and electronic record keeping to a thematic focus on intelligent care. A mere glance at the top five priorities from health IT leaders shows that issues like connected health, data sharing and on-demand care delivery are salient issues for our industry.

Vegas Intelligent Care

Before we gather at HIMSS to discuss the next phase of connected care, it’s critical to reflect on the evolution of care, as we chart the path forward. Care currently is episodic and disconnected. Patients visit their doctors periodically and receive care that is largely generic – a one-size-fits all prescription that may not take into account patients’ unique differentiators. An analogy for this state of care is like trying to create an award-winning movie that is merely composed of a series of snapshots that don’t show the full picture, or shed light on the character’s disposition. To provide and prescribe the right care, it’s paramount that health care professionals see the full picture of a patients’ health.


This is where intelligent care comes in to play. Intelligent care is personalized and continuous, not episodic, and is powered largely by contextualized data from connected medical devices and sensors.


While medical devices and sensors generate an incredible amount of data and information, historically, doctors haven’t been able to access this data, let alone aggregate it into one place to identify patterns and make informed interventions. In the not too distant future, intelligent care systems allow for customized treatment whenever and wherever the patient may be while also allowing providers to better manage patients under a continuous-care approach.


Take Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) as an example. In the past, patients with COPD used disconnected inhalers to receive their medication and would report back to their doctors on an episodic basis. Now, Qualcomm Life is working with Novartis to transform the way patients manage their chronic disease. Using a connected inhaler, doctors will soon have the ability to receive reports about patient’s usage of the monitor, the quality of their inhalations, etc. This is intelligent care.


I’m excited to further discuss how we can collaborate as an industry to deliver intelligent care everywhere at #HIMSS16 and beyond.


Follow @QualcommLife and @CapsuleTech on Twitter for updates and stop by booth #6437 to meet the team at HIMSS 2016.

The Buzz at CES The Buzz at CES

04 February 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

Walking the show floor this year it was obvious that nearly every imaginable item we interact with is becoming connected and “smart.” From connected washing machines to connected cars to connected blood pressure monitors, the Internet of Things was inescapable at CES 2016.

One great example that debuted this year is Qualcomm’s very own collaboration with Audi, which will incorporate the Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset into a new line of 2017 cars this fall.


Audi car powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset
What is interesting about this collaboration is that with new sensor technologies, this new generation of connected and “smart” cars have the ability to constantly monitor data flowing continuously from multiple sensors, identify an imminent crash, and automatically apply the break to stop the car far faster than humans ever could. The projection is that over the next five years, this advancement could prevent 1 out of 3 fatal crashes[1] (and potentially reduce the total number of fender-benders by as much as 90 percent) – further validating that smart, connected technology can help save lives.


In my role as Vice-Chairman of Health and Fitness Technology Division of the Consumer Technology Association (the trade association that puts on CES) – and as a cardiothoracic surgeon – I see distinct parallels between these life-saving smart cars and connected, “smart” medical devices that will dramatically change the delivery of healthcare.

At CES this year, Qualcomm Life displayed two examples of how the Internet of Things is shaping health care – something we call The Internet of Medical Things. We announced two new collaborations, including a connected inhaler that we developed with Novartis for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and the world’s first connected home pregnancy test, the First Response Pregnancy Pro.

Connectivity can enable improved medication adherence, better management of chronic diseases as well as the opportunity for health care providers to make informed interventions before patients end up in acute care settings.

Walgreens connected blood pressure cuff, powered by Qualcomm Life's 2net Platform

Much like how connected cars are designed to improve the user experience and ultimately the safety of the consumer, connected medical devices are helping patients and caregivers alike not only by improving care delivery, but more importantly by impacting overall outcomes.

With the Internet of Medical Things comes significant data from the connected medical devices and sensors. Hot on the heels of CES is health care IT’s biggest conference, HIMSS 2016, taking place February 29 – March 4 in Las Vegas, where we’re sure to see the latest and greatest solutions that put medical device data to use to reduce health care costs, streamline resources and improve care.





[1] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, Crash avoidance technologies 2015

Making Scalable Connected Health a Reality Making Scalable Connected Health a Reality

09 November 2015, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

Like with any disruptive technology, we have innovators and early adopters. As we transition from pilot programs to enterprise wide deployments, scalability undoubtedly remains a critical topic of discussion, especially as it relates to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

While connected care and the IoMT are not yet ubiquitous, we can help ensure scalability by identifying the accelerators and opportunities to propel this movement forward:

Creating Simplicity: As an industry, we need to start thinking less about the actual technology and more about how we can help providers adopt and use our technologies. We need to make it effortless for them, and be obsessive about simplicity.

Building a Connective Fabric: We must create a seamless fabric with the IoMT that makes care along the continuum – from the hospital to the home, and everywhere in between – predictive, intelligent and connected.

Developing Medical-Grade Devices: Ensuring that the technologies we create are medical-grade is essential. Health care professionals make life and death decisions based on the health data that comes from connected devices and apps. To that end, we have to guarantee that doctors can trust this data – and that it is secure and private.

Supporting Clinician Behavior Change: We have to work with providers to help them learn and practice a new care model. As payment reform moves away from fee for service to value-based incentives, clinicians will need to deliver care more and more through virtual means (remote patient monitoring and telehealth)versus traditional face-to-face encounter-based care. As an example, the new Medicare Chronic Care Management (CCM) program offers reimbursement to providers without requiring a face-to-face encounter for the first time in history. This, and many other programs, pave the way for virtual care models that can improve outcomes, reduce cost of care, and align incentives for patients, providers, and payers alike.

Building Smooth Clinical Workflow: How does technology fit into what doctors and nurses need to do on a daily basis? We have an opportunity to educate health care professionals and also create processes using connected health technologies that allows for smoother workflows, where near real-time data delivery enhances care.

As we look at the adoption curve for scalable connected health, it’s imperative to understand that these accelerators are not barriers to wide-scale adoption, they’re opportunities.

Hear more about the Internet of Medical Things and clinical adoption at the 2015 mHealth Summit. We will be sharing live tweets from the conference; follow here and on Twitter, @QualcommLife.

Qualcomm Life Acquires Capsule Technologie Qualcomm Life Acquires Capsule Technologie

14 September 2015, Written by Rick Valencia, President

In our ongoing effort to deliver intelligent care everywhere, I am thrilled to announce that we have acquired Capsule Technologie, a leading global provider of medical device integration and clinical data management solutions with more than 1,930 hospital clients in 38 countries. Capsule brings 18 years of experience in unlocking the power of clinical data to provide cutting-edge monitoring and integration of connected devices across acuity settings in hospitals. Along with their world-class customer support capabilities, Capsule’s offering includes data collection, delivery and integration into 30+ EMR and HIT systems, and over 750 medical devices for nearly every type of device in a hospital.

The joining of our companies will generate tremendous value for the health care industry. Through this strategic investment, Qualcomm Life will be in a unique position to help solve the connectivity and interoperability complexities that have challenged health care for decades.

The synergies between our two companies are exceptional. We share a vendor-neutral approach, a commitment to solving the most complex connectivity challenges, a focus on interoperability, and a vision of powering care delivery in the hospital, at home and all points in between.

Together with our expansive ecosystem of customers and collaborators, we will help shape a new standard of care, creating a more seamless experience for patients, providers and caregivers.

We look forward to sharing the latest news on the acquisition on Twitter. Follow @QualcommLife to join the conversation.

Communicating Patient Services

04 September 2015

Most patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses have a strong desire to get more information about what exactly is ailing them, and the options that are available to them. A recent survey conducted by Accenture, however, reveals that a troubling number of patients don’t get sufficient access to either.

The survey was presented at #QualcommConnect 2015 by Joshua Miller, a manager for Accenture, and was comprised of 10,000 chronic disease patients in five countries around the world.

The first key finding from the survey is that patients want more pre-treatment help; most feel that they aren’t receiving enough information about the illness, their diagnosis or the treatment they’re about to undergo. Often, patients are required to make critical decisions without being properly educated in the implications of those decision.

One of the biggest findings, however, is that less than one in five patients are aware of the programs and services that are available to them. This is important, because the survey found that the majority of patients (58 percent) who are aware of those services end up using and valuing them. This is a significant area of opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to raise awareness of value-added services and provide helpful treatments for those patients’ conditions.

Finally, the survey found that 87 percent of patients want one point of contact to help them manage their health, and 85 percent want their healthcare professional to be their primary source of information – either through doctors or digital channels.

What lessons can we learn from this study? First, “pharmaceutical companies are missing a significant opportunity to provide services to patients before they’re officially treated for a condition,” Miller said. Those companies should go to where the need is.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies need to invest as much in the communication and coordination of those services as they do in building them; if they’re not being used, a lot of investments are simply being wasted.

All told, the survey’s findings present another window of opportunity for the health care industry to provide seamless experiences with the patient. If nobody understands their illness, the potential treatments or the services available to help mitigate the advancement of those conditions, a lot more money is being wasted in the healthcare industry that could be put to good use.

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