West money greasing government for wireless medicine

Summary:I hope that what emerges does help accelerate the industry, but it's the industry that is most important here, not the government.

The West Wireless Health Institute of San Diego is hosting an event in Washington today aimed at "bridging the gap between the wireless health industry and government to help accelerate low cost health care solutions through innovation."

Sounds great, but what gap? (To the right are Gary and Mary West, the telemarketing billionaires who funded the Institute.)

I have yet to hear a politician or bureaucrat say a single negative thing about wireless technology in medicine. Money-saving technology like this is something that both Republicans and Democrat can get behind with enthusiasm.

That's not to say there aren't issues:

  • Device makers want a dedicated frequency band near that of WiFi. The space is currently being used for aeronautical telemetry, but the answer is to prove that low-power short-range signals won't interfere -- it's a technical concern more than a political one.
  • There are concerns over the security and privacy of signals used for medicine in wireless. But the popularity of WiFi in hospitals really should prove those concerns groundless. Again, a technical issue.
  • Device makers would like to be paid. Getting into the medical payment framework means proving the economic efficiency of what is being offered. There are studies out already doing that.

In Washington wireless medical is sort of a fair-haired child, favored by policymakers. Have they asked the Wests to host this event?

I should stop being a curmudgeon.

I wish the event well. It's nice for the industry I saw coming in 2003 to have a sugar daddy. I wrote this about the WWHI in July:

It has the money and industry clout to represent the need credibly before Washington policymakers, and the independence to be seen as an honest broker among the medical players.

I hope that what emerges does help accelerate the industry, but it's the industry that is most important here, not the government.

It's a point I expect many speakers to make today.

Topics: Mobility, Government, Government : US, Networking


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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