Q&A With Gary West: Using Wireless Technology to Transform Healthcare

4/16/09

Less than three weeks ago, the Gary and Mary West foundation helped establish San Diego’s new West Wireless Health Institute, one of the first medical research organizations devoted to the development of new wireless healthcare technologies. As a result, in the not-too-distant-future, you could get a warning on your cell phone before you suffer a heart attack. You also will likely see your doctors less often and spend less time in the hospital. Yet, you will likely have more precise and immediate knowledge of your vital signs.

The key words that embody such advances are “remote monitoring.” Instead of seeing your doctor for a regular check up, you might simply wear different wireless sensing devices.

Gary West, who made his fortune in the telemarketing business, donated $45 million through his family foundation to create the institute in La Jolla. He also will serve as the institute’s founding chairman. According to West, a global search is underway for the institute’s CEO. He anticipates the institute will have approximately 25 employees by the end of the year, and more than 100 employees within the first eighteen months.

Gary West

Gary West

West, who intends to make the institute fully operational by this summer, recently agreed to answer some questions from Xconomy.

Why did you get involved in launching this institute?

West: We want to be a catalyst for wireless health and provide optimism for the future of healthcare. I began to believe at least a decade ago that wireless technology could be the way to help accelerate change and improvement in healthcare. When you think about the reach of wireless technology and its ability to connect people, it isn’t hard to fathom that we can have that breakthrough impact on healthcare.

It was the connection with Dr. Eric Topol from Scripps Health and Don Jones from Qualcomm that solidified for me that this was the right thing to do at the right moment in time. Discussions between the three of us about launching the West Wireless Health Institute began … Next Page »

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  • http://www.vocera.com Matriko Blouin

    I applaud the Wireless Health Institute’s formation. My view of wirelss is based upon the increasing adoption of enterprise wireless infrastructure within healthcare organizations as the communication backbone for data and voice solutions which will lead to better patient outcomes.

  • Dr. Richard S. Dick

    I am very encouraged by the establishment of the Institute and congratulate Gary West in setting it up. I truly believe that it has significant potential for enhancing patient care. There are many new innovations which can be brought to patients and providers alike which will reduce costs and increase quality of care. As an expert in healthcare IT, I share very much the vision and want to assist in any way that I can.

  • Joseph Ng

    This is very much needed. With smart phones and robust client-server solutions, and hopefully wearable vital sign monitors, people can be mobile and enjoy a full life while staying safe.

  • http://www.BRYTECH.com Earl Bryenton

    I have been working with patients in hospitals for a number of years in a program with wireless monitors worn by patients.The monitor for all vital signs is worn by patient that enables patient to be mobile and monitored wirelessly at home. This relieves hospitals and saves lives and money.
    Interested in other developments in this area.

  • tom myron

    Do you have any thoughts regarding what would consitute the end-game for this approach to health care. What would success look like?