Digital Innovation: Health in Your Hand

By Gillian Christie

Private sector efforts are transforming digital health innovation. In 2013, firms worldwide spent $13.8 billion on building digital enablers for health. This amount has already been exceeded in 2014. Sales of health and wellness products in the US are also expected to increase annually from 45.1 million in 2014 to 70.9 million in 2018.

Qualcomm, the world leader in 3G and next generation mobile technologies, has contributed to advancing digital health by launching the Tricorder XPRIZE in partnership with the XPRIZE Foundation. Qualcomm has aspired to revolutionize digital health by pioneering a global competition that stimulates innovation and integration of precision diagnostic technologies. Teams are challenged to create a light-weight and portable device that can rapidly, accurately, and non-invasively diagnose 15 health conditions. Using a combination of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and laboratory replacements, devices will measure health metrics including blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature. Tricorder XPRIZE has reduced over 300 proposals to 10 from 7 countries. The winning team receives $10 million, which will be awarded in January 2016.

Advances in biotechnology, sensing technologies, and digital interaction devices have facilitated the development of digital health solutions. In June 2014, the Vitality Institute released a Technology Catalysts Map in partnership with the Institute for the Future. The map presents health promotion technologies with the greatest potential to improve human and economic vitality out to the year 2030.

Overall, the hefty investment in digital health solutions is only commencing in crafting innovations that measure health status alongside environmental footprint. This represents the next era of change, moving from a silo approach to one that recognizes synergies for sustained positive impact. Personalized technologies that simultaneously measure heart health and greenhouse gas emissions are those that are likely to succeed in maximizing societal well-being and ensuring sustainable development for future generations.

Are you developing a digital solution that measures health status and environmental footprints? We want to hear from you! Message Gillian at or Tweet @VitalityInst


Qualcomm Digital Innovation WhatWeMeasureGraph

Source: MIT Technology Review. 2014. Data-Driven Health Care. MIT Technology Review, 117(5): 1-19. Click on image to enlarge.

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