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Qualcomm Life spells out its purpose

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The head of Qualcomm Life, the young subsidiary of chip giant Qualcomm Inc., cleared up some confusion about what the unit was created to do.

Rick Valencia, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Life, took the stage at the San Diego-based Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance's (WLSA) eighth annual convergence summit on Thursday.

"We are not going to be a health care company, we aren’t going to diagnose anything. We are going to build a wireless health network -- a superhighway that health solutions can be built on top of," he said.

WLSA's flagship event, at the Omni Hotel from May 28 to 30, unites wireless and mobile technology innovators, scientists, physicians, policymakers, service providers and investors who are spearheading the digital revolution in health care.

The nonprofit trade association was created in 2005 and counts Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) as a founding member.

Qualcomm Life has the simple goal of mobilizing health care, Valencia said.

"I get a lot of questions from folks about what we are doing in the space," Valencia said. "[They say], 'You are a technology company, but what are you doing in health care? What is your role?'"

The broad vision is to create a world with access to health care any time, anywhere.

"The way you manage your health and the way you are diagnosed or monitored will be something that happens, for the most part, in the palm of your hand," he said.

When most industries think about developing new products today, they think about developing mobile first, he points out.

"We think health care is the same and we think health care can substantially benefit from the scale the mobile network brings," Valencia said.

People look at their phone, on average, 150 times a day.

"That's an understatement for me," he laughed.

Qualcomm Life launched as a subsidiary about a year and a half ago with 40 ecosystem partners; that number stands at more than 250 today.

The company recently acquired San Diego-based HealthyCircles. The integrated, interoperable software as a service (SaaS) Care Orchestration Engine connects health care professionals, patients, families and caregivers to manage a patient’s care transitions beyond the hospital and into the home.

"That [acquisition] sounded to people like we were going deeper into the health care world. That’s not the way we look at it. We are creating more connections and pathways for data," Valencia said.

A patient's chart, converted into an electronic medical record, doesn't have a way to escape a facility's walls when a patient is discharged.

"What HealthyCircles has done is created a patient chart outside of walls and created a connection between relevant parties," he said.

That means information can flow securely between doctors, for example.

"Creating more of a superhighway. HealthyCircles puts the patients in the center. They can control it when they move from provider to provider, or place to place it goes with them," Valencia said.

Empowering people to better manage their care will have cost-saving advantages down the line.

"I think people will take more advantage of care because they can and economically it will be important to them," he said.

The same way a cellphone is "always on" for people to communicate will also be true for health care.

"This 'always on' concept of health care is around the corner," he said.

He hinted at the fact that Qualcomm Life will likely acquire other assets to help the health care industry reduce costs over time.

He uses the metaphor of a car to demonstrate how in touch people will be with their health in the future. Just like a car alerts a driver with lights and signals when it needs a check-up or oil change, digital health apps and devices will sound off the same alarms to its human users.

“You know so much more about the health of your car today than you know about your own health,” Valencia said. “We don’t have that yet for health care, but we will -- it’s around the corner."

It needs to happen sooner than later, because unlike a car, "there’s no trade-in for us," he said.

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Qualcomm Life

Company Website

5775 Morehouse Dr.
San Diego, CA 92121

Qualcomm Life Executive(s):

Rick Valencia

  • Vice President