Healthcare MVNO, Weight Loss or Health Mangement Solution?

Can the MVNO phenomena really extend to healthcare? Qualcomm thinks so, as in May 2007 they announced plans to create LifeComm a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with a healthcare focus. What’s important in Qualcomm’s plans and what will perhaps be the most important factor in determining the long term success of LifeComm is their plans to integrate some of the core health care monitoring functions in to a range of custom handsets coupled with network based services.

It is not farfetched to imagine a mobile phone (cell phone) based solution that encourages the improvement of ones diet and to encourage weight loss. For example it is suggested that the mobile device could monitor a number of body functions and parameters. A patient’s clinician could remotely monitor such data from the web, setting the patient new targets, send text messages of encouragement or indeed warnings of deviation from the health care program. Such proactive healthcare technology could have a revolutionary effect on diet and weight-loss programs.

Critical to the success of healthcare MVNOs is a range of clever biometric sensors linked to the web via the patients mobile phone (cell phone), all integrated with a proven clinical program.

Whether or not one really needs a MVNO to deliver these services is unclear. Could the airtime service be provided using the patients existing mobile (cellular) provider? Or, are these applications strong enough to force the consumer to switch providers, bringing over their mobile spend? In Piran Partners experience this very much depends on the attitude of consumers in a particular target segment, whether that be by geographic region or interest group.