Building the tracks the trains run on.

Building the tracks the trains run on.

This morning we read a headline that is becoming increasingly common; “Roche, Qualcomm Team Up on Remote Patient Monitoring”.  In the story that accompanied the headline it states; “Swiss diagnostics giant Roche is partnering with Qualcomm Life to improve remote monitoring and management of chronic disease patients”.  Even though the initial effort between the companies will focus on anticoagulation meters it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that given Roche’s diabetes unit the interconnected world of diabetes management is not far behind.

This really isn’t news as everyone and we mean everyone is jumping on the IDM bandwagon. Nor does it matter much to Qualcomm that Roche’s diabetes unit isn’t doing all that well or that the glucose monitoring market is in complete disarray. Keep in mind that Qualcomm has made several investment in the diabetes area tow of the more notable being BGM companies TelCare and Yofi. The company had a strong presence at the mHealth Summit, the Consumer Electronic Show (no surprise there) and the J P Morgan Healthcare conference.

It may surprise some people but the company also has a relationship with Walgreens and indirectly their private label meter supplier Nipro diagnostics. During CES the companies stated in a press release; “Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Life, Inc., is collaborating with Walgreens to power device connectivity with Walgreens mobile and web applications and its Balance Rewards for healthy choices™ program with robust medical device connectivity and care coordination capabilities. Within the apps, Qualcomm Life’s 2net Platform will also enable remote patient monitoring, transitional care support and chronic care management through a secure and seamless transmission of biometric data from patients’ connected medical devices.

Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices members earn points for participating in various health-related programs and tracking progress toward a goal. With medical device connectivity powered by Qualcomm Life, Balance Rewards for healthy choices members can sync select mHealth devices directly to their Balance Rewards account, earning points and enabling pharmacists to electronically access biometrics and health status information. Compatible Walgreens devices include a wrist-worn blood pressure cuff, a traditional blood pressure cuff and a blood glucose meter. The Walgreens applications and Qualcomm-enabled branded devices will be available to consumers in the first half of 2015.”

Now at this point some just might be wondering just what the heck is going on here, why has Qualcomm become interested in diabetes devices and why are throwing over $100 million into health related ventures. Why haven’t we heard anything about a Qualcomm glucose meter or non-invasive continuous monitoring system or some other way cool diabetes device that of course connects with the cloud? After all Google has their way cool contact lenses that are supposed to measure glucose levels. Apple is said to be working on some sort continuous monitoring system which connects with their way cool and way popular iPhone. And let’s not forget all the existing glucose monitors that either connect to or communicate with iPhones and now android devices.

The simple fact is Qualcomm has no interest in getting in the diabetes device business directly. They also could care less which IDM system a patient uses as long as they use it. This in essence is what Qualcomm cares about as they are building the infrastructure that carries all this data to the cloud. Put more simply they are building the tracks that the trains run on, they could care less where the trains are going as long as they are running. The more companies that use the Qualcomm technology the better, so why not fund as many of these efforts as is reasonable.

As we continue to follow the development and transition to IDM it will be interesting to see whether a company like Qualcomm through there many investments and collaborations can push IDM to becoming the standard of care. No matter what happens one thing is becoming clearer every day, every diabetes device company out there better get with the program and get there in a hurry. It’s also evident that many of the existing players won’t make it over the long run as they are just too bloated, slow at adapting and overburdened by huge and cumbersome corporate infrastructures.

As we have stated many times the technology for IDM exists right this very moment, technology is not the issue here. The issue here is getting patients to use IDM regularly, not just once in a while. If IDM is to become the standard of care it must become as essential to a patient as the drugs they take to control their diabetes. Additionally physicians, Certified Diabetes Educators, pharmacists, payors and employers – all those who have an interest in patients achieving better overall outcomes- must realize two critical points. First, no matter how way cool easy to use IDM may be IDM is not for everyone. Second IDM by itself won’t get patients to better outcomes, all this data must turned into understandable, actionable information.