T-Mobile plays in m-health while competitors push machine-to-machine communications

I've been wondering for months when T-Mobile would join other major cellular carriers in embracing mobile healthcare. I learned today that it's already happened.

At the opening session of the Mobile Health Expo in Las Vegas, which I moderated this morning, Scott Ellis, business development manager of telemedicine for T-Mobile USA, explained how the company made a conscious decision not to offer direct m-health products, but rather to provide network and custom billing support to partners with more experience in m-health. "It makes a very clean model for us," Ellis said.

He also said he doesn't have permission from higher-ups to discuss specific products T-Mobile supports.

Fortunately, the other panelists, David Kalb, director of machine-to-machine business development for AT&T, and Dan Gillison, national director of public-sector sales programs for Sprint, do. Kalb highlighted the recently announced deal between AT&T and WellDoc--covered elsewhere in today's issue of FierceMobileHealthcare, and Gillison used this forum to make some real news.

Today, Sprint announced a deal with AirStrip Technologies to deliver real-time waveform and other data from hospital monitors to smartphones over the Sprint 4G wireless network. Gillison said that this would make mobile telemedicine more useful than ever to physicians.

Partnerships aside, M2M emerged as the common theme between the three carriers. Why machine-to-machine? "It needs to be easy," Ellis said. If machines are handling the data collection and communication, clinicians, caregivers and especially elderly patients being monitored remotely don't have to bother with such technical details. Plus, it's fast. "The currency today is time," Gillison said, echoing the sentiments of the other two panelists. - Neil