Cable entertainment giant Comcast is apparently working on launching an in-home device designed to monitor people’s health, possibly in partnership with hospital systems. In doing so, it’s jockeying for position in a market with immense potential.
According to a report in CNBC, the planned device will monitor patients at home using ambient sensors. These sensors would pick up data not typically captured by existing connected health devices, such as whether someone is making frequent bathroom trips, spending more time in bed or has fallen. The Comcast devices will also be able to make emergency phone calls in the case of health event, the site reports.
If things go as planned, Comcast will begin pilot testing devices at the end of this year, with a potential commercial release in 2020 to follow. CNBC is reporting that several large hospitals are in talks with the cable provider, including Rush University Medical Center, regarding deploying the devices to prevent readmissions.
These moves are part of a longer-term health technology strategy by Comcast, which announced an agreement last year to create a patient care technology communications platform in cooperation with Independence Health Group.
The platform being developed by the two partners will provide patients with content information related to their health concerns. While it would initially be offered only to the employees of Independence, which operates Independence Blue Cross and Blue Shield, it would eventually be available nationwide.
As the CNBC report notes, Comcast’s health tech moves into direct competition with the giants of consumer technology, including Google, Apple and Amazon. For example, Google is said to be very interested in addressing the “aging in place” market targeted by Comcast using its Nest and Google Home devices.
However, the long-term potential for in-home monitoring and medical information access goes well beyond the senior market.
For example, look at the latest series of healthcare partnerships agreed to by Amazon. Earlier this year, the e-commerce giant announced that it had struck deals in which several healthcare companies would offer HIPAA-compliant services on its Alexa platform. The partners included Cigna and Express Scripts.
While we’re at a very early stage for such developments, we’re clearly seeing that many healthcare leaders envision a world in which patients host a smart healthcare device to serve as wellness monitor, content delivery vehicle, appointment scheduler and telemedicine link.
If the world does move decisively in this direction, it’s hard to imagine who’d be better positioned to benefit than a cableco with a physical line into everyone’s home. If I were a hospital IT leader I’d think about giving Comcast a call.