The American National Broadband Plan on Health Care: Opportunity in Abundant Supply

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) was issued last week to a warm reception and many high profile endorsements of its overriding objectives. The NBP addresses the issues of telemedicine, mobile health and the health care information technology (HCIT) industry as a whole through a candid snapshot of the current marketplace in chapter 10 (download the chapter here). In short, there is a clear acknowledgment of the possibility for innovation and new economic activity. Above all else, it is a clear attempt to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in new and clearly under-served markets.

It gave particular emphasis to the expectations that mobile health will provide tremendous economic activity and innovation over the course of the coming decade and beyond (See 3G Doctor Blog for additional highlights). I can say there is already considerable headway made in pursuit of these mobile health initiatives, particularly in the realm of body sensor networks, which consist of 'very short-range networks consisting of multiple body-worn sensors and/or nodes and a nearby hub station. The sensors and/or nodes make it possible to wirelessly transmit data to body-worn or closely located hub devices.' Hub devices can be any variety of connectivity agent (e.g. wireless routers, smart phones, netbooks and wireless data cards) which enable to exchange of patient information via dedicated broadband network. 

Wave Technology Group is a company my partners and I recently engaged through the University of Chicago Hospital's Pediatric Epilepsy Center. Wave was launched by Sam Cinquegrani, a local Chicago entrepreneur who cut his teeth is software developing object-oriented platforms for institutional clients such as the City of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) and Fortune 100 corporations, namely JP Morgan and Mitsubishi.

Sam's financial platforms sit at the center of the global economy and the broadband superhighways, facilitating the millions of daily transactions that pass through the largest options exchange in the world within a millisecond of their execution by traders working via custom applications that reside on their standard issue smart phone (e.g. Blackberry, iPhone, Android or Windows Mobile) and laptops or netbooks. Yet, despite the robust growth and success of this venture, Sam began to see an even bigger opportunity to take his platform-centric vision to a similarly information-intensive industry – Health Care.

To begin realizing this vision and true to his innovation-oriented disposition, Sam soon began experimenting with variations of his mobile trading technology, which couples bluetooth and 3G data connectivity provided by telecoms. My partners and I see Sam's vision as a brilliant approach to spawning application development and innovation in specialized telemedicine applications for treatment of diseases with easily targetable patients, such as the pediatric epilepsy joint venture Sam broached with the University that led him to us.

Sam is not alone in his optimistic outlook for the HCIT marketplace - IBM Strategic Finance and GE Capital have both extended multi-billion dollar funds to provide zero-percent interest financing to physicians as an additional incentive to spur early adoption. These two multi-national corporations are primarily motivated by a desire to bolster their EHR, EMR and HIE products, but they also reap the long-term windfall of collecting the Federally mandated subsidies outline in the HITECH Act as part of last years stimulus package. In total, they subsidize are currently slated to be $19B and change during a four year time frame from October 2010 through 2014.

Broadband for America is a good resource on the current state of broadband deployment and adoption with specific information on the impacts in health care and medicine, BfA is on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/BroadbandforAmerica.
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1 comment:

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