Could wireless health get too rich and too Slim?

In just a few years wireless health has been showered with money, tied into the very wealthiest circles, and given enough corporate partners to choke a horse.

When I first started covering wireless health, seven years ago, the field was lucky to have two dimes to rub together.

Now, thanks to telemarketing billionaires Gary and Mary West, it may be too rich. And too Slim, as in Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, whose new health institute has also aligned with their effort.

The grand opening of the West Wireless Health Institute, atop the prestigious Torrey Pines Mesa in San Diego, was the setting for the big announcements:

  • The Wests have put another $25 million into the Institute, bringing their total commitment to the effort to $90 million.
  • Cisco, Medtronic and Carefusion have all joined as technology and education partners.
  • The research partnership with Slim, who has also teamed up with the Gates Foundation in a $150 million health partnership.

In just a few years wireless health has been showered with money, tied into the very wealthiest circles, and given enough corporate partners to choke a horse.

Can you be too rich and too Slim?

I find this ironic because wireless health is not an area that should require immense charitable support. Sensor and wireless communication chips are ready for prime time venture funding and deployment today. They have been for some time.

Part of the problem is that while the parts are cheap, and the technologies widely available, little system integration work has been done, coupled with the privacy and security requirements of the American health care system.

But now money won't be a problem. Corporate alliances won't be a problem. Government and foundation attention won't be a problem. American regulations won't be a problem with Latin American deployments. Even patience won't be a problem, since the Wests are committed to the long haul.

The problem, to my mind, will be hunger. Can the Wests attract a hungry entrepreneur who can turn what they have into useful, salable solutions? Or will this technology wind up locked in expensive boardrooms, and committees, while our need for it becomes overwhelming?

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