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Nokia May Exit Digital Health Business

Posted on March 2, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

The digital health market has become phenomenally competitive over the last few years, with giants like Google and Apple duking it out with smaller, fast-moving startups over the choicest opportunities in the sector.

Even with a behemoth like Google, you expect to see some stumbles, and the Internet giant has taken a few. But seldom have we seen a billion-dollar company walk away from the digital health market, which arguably stands to grow far more. Still, according to a recent news report, that’s just what Nokia may be doing.

A story published in The Verge reports that the Finnish telecom giant has launched a strategic review of its health division. While Nokia apparently isn’t spilling the beans on its plans, the news site got a look at an internal company memo which suggests that its digital health business is indeed in trouble.

In the memo, The Verge says, Nokia chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac wrote that “our digital health business has struggled to scale and meet its growth expectations… [And] currently, we don’t see a path for [the digital health business] to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia.”

While it’s hard to tell much from a press release, it notes that Nokia’s digital health division makes and sells an ecosystem of hybrid smart watches, scales and digital health devices to consumers and enterprises. Its digital health history includes the acquisition of Withings, a French startup with a sexy line up of connected health-focused digital health devices.

This may be in part because it just hasn’t been aggressive enough or offered anything unique. In the wake of the Withings acquisition, Nokia doesn’t seem to have done much to build on Withings’ product line. Though much of the success in this market depends on execution, its current roster of products doesn’t sound like anything too exciting or differentiated.

It’s interesting to note that Buvac blames at least part of the failure of its digital health excursion on Nokia’s size. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for industry-leading companies like Apple, which seems to be carving out its digital health footprint one launch at a time and cultivating health leaders along the way. For example, Apple recently partnered with Stanford Medicine launch an app using its smartwatch to collect data on irregular heart rhythms. Arguably, this is the way to win markets and influence people — slow and steady.

In the end, though, Buvac is probably right about is digital health prospects. Nokia’s seeming failure may indeed be attributed to its sprawling portfolio, and probably an inflexible internal culture as well. The moral of the story may be that winning at the digital health game has far more to do with understanding the market than it does with having very deep pockets.

The Speed of Innovation in Mobile Networks – Enabling The Future of Healthcare

Posted on September 8, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been attending the CTIA Super Mobility Conference in Las Vegas today and it’s been eye opening to say the least. The efforts they’re making to make wireless networks work for the IOT (internet of things) and even things like drones is incredible. Much of the buzz at the event has also been around the coming 5G networks.

Matt Grop EVP and CTO at Qualcomm offered this comparison of the progression from voice to 4G LTE to 5G:

Later, Rajeev Suir, President and CEO of Nokia, then suggested that we need 5G networks because the applications of the future will require it. This is an interesting statement to consider. Today during my Healthcare API discussion the need for faster connections came up and illustrated how healthcare could benefit from this additional speed. In fact, the innovations in healthcare are likely going to be facilitated or even demand the faster speeds to become a reality.

Think about neural networks and genomic medicine. That type of processing isn’t going to happen on the phone. The data for those won’t be stored on your phone, laptop, or desktop. It’s going to be stored and processed in the cloud and then sent back to your phone. The exchange of data that is going to need to happen is going to be huge and we’re going to need really fast networks to enable this future.

Think about all of the sensor data that is going to be reporting up to the cloud to be processed by these neural networks and pharmacogenomic processing engines. We’re not going to plug in to transfer this data. It’s going to use these ubiquitous wireless networks that currently connect our smart phones.

This all certainly leads to a fascinating future. I love the way technology can open the door to opportunities that would have never been thought possible previously. New high speed mobile networks like 5G are an example of that. The only question is if even 5G will be fast enough.

No Doubt Digital Health Has Gone Mainstream

Posted on April 27, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The big digital health news yesterday was that Nokia was acquiring Withings. There’s no better sign of the massive market opportunity that is the digital health space. It also seems to show a huge pivot in the business model of Nokia. Long a phone manufacturer, they’re now using their massive war chest and understanding of the mobile industry to enter into the digital health space in a big way with this acquisition.

From the Withings perspective, I’ll be interested to see what Nokia can do as far as distribution of the Withings product lines. Withings has had a strong presence in the digital health space for a while, but there’s definitely a land grab happening between all the various players in the industry. We’ll see if having Nokia around can accelerate their acquisition of market share.

I’ll be interested to see where Nokia takes this as well. Is this the first of many digital health acquisitions? Withings has a great digital health product line, but we’re seeing an explosion of health sensors that could compliment their product line. Nokia has much deeper pockets than Withings, but are they willing to acquire companies to build up their war chest of health sensors? It will be fun to watch it play out.

I wonder if Nokia’s ties to Microsoft will be a help or a hindrance to Withings. Certainly they’re going to have to hook into the iOS and Android platforms. They already are, but will this acquisition make those integrations harder? Will they miss out on opportunities with these 2 major phone types because of the new connection to Nokia?

I’m always interested which large companies are starting to enter the digital health space. We’ve seen a ton of work from large brands like Adidas, Nike and Under Armour for example. iFit has been working really hard on the space and they come out of NordickTrack. Fossil acquired Misfit. I’m sure there are bunch more I missed, but such an extraordinary diversity of companies working in the space.

Who else do you think will enter the space? Any companies you think that will become the leaders?

Tattoos that Vibrate Could Have Numerous Applications

Posted on March 26, 2012 I Written By

Tattoos are a pretty polarizing subject.  Most people either think they are awesome, or think they are disgusting and/or desecrate the body.  Personally, I have always thought small simple ones can be very cool but have never gotten one because of the whole permanent nature of the process.

Scientists are now working on a way to make tattoos that can vibrate much like your cellphone.  In fact, that is one of the applications that they are hoping to make work.  According to an article in the Toronto Star, you wouldn’t have to be right next to your phone if you were waiting for an important call.  You could be out swimming or otherwise exercising and when you felt the tattoo vibrate you could retrieve your phone and not miss the call.

There is a whole slew of ideas for applying tattoos in healthcare, many of which have been covered by MedGadget, and like many other ideas this one may still be years away from becoming a reality, but it does get you thinking about the things that have seemed impossible becoming a reality in the not so distant future.

What kind of technology would you like to see become a reality?