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WebMD, Qualcomm build consumer cloud for mobile health data

Lucas Mearian | March 21, 2013
WebMD is also building a physician, patient web portal.

WebMD and Qualcomm have partnered to offer consumers a way to upload biometric data from wireless home medical devices. That data can then be shared with healthcare providers.

WebMD's new Health Cloud platform is due out this fall and will be based on Qualcomm's 2net platform, a cloud-based system designed to be interoperable with different wireless medical devices and applications, allowing medical device users and their healthcare providers to access biometric data online.

While the 2net platform existed prior to the collaboration, WebMD brings with it 117 million unique visitors who log onto its site each month, according to WebMD CTO Bill Pence.

"Our mobile health webpage alone gets 22 million page views a month," Pence said. "But information is just the beginning of the journey. With our brand and audience, we're well positioned to help consumers take the next step ... and connect into the medical ecosystem and eventually have connectivity services with the physician."

Consumers are now managing their health across multiple screens and biometric devices with a limited ability to integrate their data. The WebMD and Qualcomm Life collaboration will help sync the data collected and help people play a bigger role in their health, WebMD and Qualcomm said in a statement.

In addition to its large consumer health information website, WebMD has made a strong push into consumer healthcare applications and to date has seen more than 17 million downloads.

Along with the consumer offerings, WebMD also has websites for healthcare professionals, the flagship being Medscape.

"We believe users will start to self report through Web tools...," Pence said. "Biometric sensors are also proliferating and they are powerful, but we don't yet have a mass market. Most consumers don't understand these sensors outside of the fitness space. They don't understand these devices are there and can have a meaningful impact on their health."

As WebMD's audience accesses its healthcare information via desktop and mobile platforms, the publication can target readers with additional data based on the medical information they're looking up.

Those accessing healthcare information using WebMD's mobile app will be asked if they are aware of biometric sensors that could help them better manage chronic illnesses or other healthcare issues. WebMD can also offer up medical literature on how mobile biometric monitoring devices work.

"We're not going to create a new app and have to create a new audience. We're simply going to embed the mHealth features into our mobile app, which already has millions of people on it," Pence said.

"Whether you're looking at diabetes content, general weight management, pain management, sleep apnea or whatever your issue is, we'll present you in-context information and education about the devices available," Pence said.


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