Dr. Soon-Shiong's vision for mobile health unclear

By Brian Dolan
03:35 am

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsDr. Patrick Soon-Shiong goes by a number of titles: Chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, chairman and CEO of the Institute for Advanced Health, Chairman and CEO of the Healthcare Transformation Institute, founder of the National Coalition for Health Integration, leader of the All About Advanced Health project, and executive chairman of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute.

Also: 4.5 percent owner of the LA Lakers basketball team.

Because of a basketball injury, Soon-Shiong was not able to present his keynote in-person at the CTIA Wireless 2011 in Orlando, Florida this week, but he did manage to remotely video link in and give a 20 minute talk that was both expansive and disparate. Perhaps telling of the myriad and as yet unconnected activities underfoot at the various organizations that he leads.

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While I decided to attend CTIA to get a better understanding of Soon-Shiong's vision and plans for mobile health (he recently acquired the high-profile Cambridge-based startup Vitality, which created the GlowCap), I left his presentation more confused than informed.

Event organizers explained Soon-Shiong's presentation in a press release following his remarks: "He set out his vision of how today’s wireless technologies can now help bring about a revolution in healthcare, realizing the dream of personalized medicine by connecting with what he calls the 'human signal engine'— the wide array of information now available from genomics and proteomics, as well as more traditional tests and scans, and the data the body receives through the senses."

The second half of Soon-Shiong's talk focused on wireless tools that aided the senses of the impaired, particularly vision and hearing. The big reveal from Soon-Shiong's presentation was that he has been working with Ipplex's iVisit, a company that has developed sophisticated visual recognition software that enables the visually impaired to "see" the world around them through their camera phones. The impressive demo of iVisit's LookTel app showed users' phones correctly identifying $1, $5, $100 bills, various brands of boxed foods, and more.

I first wrote about LookTel two years ago back when the app was called SeeScan. LookTel only recently launched commercially via the iTunes AppStore for iPhones earlier this month. Toward the end of Soon-Shiong's talk, iVisit CEO Orang Dialameh went on-stage to provide a live demo of the LookTel app. (An aside: Interestingly, Dialmeh's company received about $4.2 million in funding this past January -- that's about how much Soon-Shiong invested in GlowCap-maker Vitality before he acquired it.)

Soon-Shiong's vision for mobile health was actually much more involved than the summary statement provided by show organizers. Much more than just "seeing eye phones," too. Soon-Shiong's talk covered nearly every aspect of mobile health and the wider health reform discussion. As the names of the organizations he leads imply, his mission is nothing short of advancing, transforming, and integrating health.

He wants to take on the "system."

While Soon-Shiong's path ahead still appears unclear to this CTIA attendee, I am more convinced that Soon-Shiong's interest in mobile health extends well beyond connect pill boxes. With a personal fortune of reportedly more than $7 billion, mark these words: Soon-Shiong's impact on mobile health has only just begun.


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