ATandT, WellDoc to Offer Mobile Apps to Manage Chronic Diseases

AT&T has formed a partnership with mobile health provider WellDoc to market and sell applications to monitor chronic diseases.

AT&T and WellDoc will begin a test phase of a partnership in mobile health, offering a diabetes management application to a sample of AT&T employees in 2011.

Under the partnership, AT&T plans to market and sell WellDoc's mobile health products from end to end to insurance payers, self-insured employers and disease-management organizations, the carrier reports.

In addition, AT&T will provide mobile expertise, managed hosting, second-tier customer service, customer care, provisioning and billing for WellDoc's DiabetesManager app.

The wireless operator will provide the network infrastructure for WellDoc's applications and ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations, Randall Porter, AT&T assistant vice president of health care solutions, told eWEEK.

AT&T is self-insured and offers its own health plan to 1.2 million people, the company reports. If the internal DiabetesManager rollout is a success, AT&T will launch WellDoc's DiabetesManager commercially in 2011 as well.

Early in October, AT&T also announced plans to carry eCardio Diagnostics' cardiac arrhythmia-monitoring mobile devices on its network.

DiabetesManager allows patients to store and transmit blood glucose data securely. WellDoc also allows patients and physicians to analyze the data and track trends in glucose readings.

Following the launch of DiabetesManager, which is already FDA approved, AT&T and WellDoc plan mobile tools for managing heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and oncology.

"We'll be working to get FDA clearance on those shortly after this one," Porter said.

WellDoc was one of the first mobile health companies to gain FDA approval, according to AT&T, which announced the partnership on Oct. 13.

AT&T will soon launch collaborations with other vendors in areas such as mobile medication management and remote health monitoring, Porter said. It will also offer cloud-based storage and SAAS (software-as-a-service) applications for the medical field.

Although AT&T will be an exclusive distributor of the DiabetesManager app, access may not be limited to devices on that carrier's network. "It was really refreshing to hear that AT&T was committed to making sure our applications would also be accessible to any device on any [mobile carrier's] network," WellDoc CEO Ryan Sysko told MobiHealthNews.

"AT&T recognized that it would not be feasible to make someone use only a certain device on a certain network, so whether our users are on Verizon Wireless or AT&T or whoever, they will be able to use our applications."

The health care IT industry has been hesitant to embrace mobile health due to security and privacy concerns, Dr. Anand Iyer, president and COO of WellDoc, told eWEEK. "The message to the IT industry is all of that authenticity and encryption-all of that is there. With announcements like this, the health community is ready to embrace that."

Mobile data services in the health care industry are expected to grow to $7.7 billion by 2014, according to an August report by ABI Research.