Mark Cuban’s comments about personalized health may have turned a few heads but as one source soberly reminded us, he is not the first or the only billionaire investor in healthcare. Not by a long shot. Several people who have nine zeroes in their net worth have invested in the space. They’re motivated by emerging mobile health technology to help reduce healthcare costs and see it as playing a critical role in the future of healthcare technology. There are also philanthropic considerations to increase access to healthcare in underserved populations.
MhealthInsight reckons there are about 19 billionaire investors in mobile health, including Cuban. Here are some highlights from that list.
Bill and Melinda Gates, who set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have awarded several grants in the area of mobile. This year it awarded a $1.4 million grant to the Grameen Foundation for its Ghana Mobile Technology for Community Health initiative or MOTECH Ghana. The new funding for the MOTECH Ghana program will help it expand two apps geared for mothers and community nurses across rural Ghana and evaluate their impact. Its Mobile Midwife application, for example, sends SMS and voice messages to pregnant women and mothers giving time-specific information about pregnancies and childcare each week. An app for community nurses helps them collect patient data and upload the records to a centralized database to track the care of their patients.
Doug Fregin, co-founder of Blackberry, started a $100 million investment fund with Mike Lazaridis called Quantum Valley Investments to invest in technology in the vein of the medical tricorder, echoing Qualcomm’s Tricorder X prize.
Philippe Kahn created the camera phone and founded Fullpower Technologies, which develops wearable sensing technology.
Vinod Khosla, the founder of Khosla Ventures, has invested in companies such as Ginger.io, and CellScope – a mobile health technology developer that’s created a way to diagnose ear infections remotely.
Carlos Slim, a telecommunications mogul, founded the Carlos Slim Health Institute. It has collaborated with West Health Institute and Qualcomm, on advancing wireless technology for health. The three groups created the Wireless Pregnancy Remote Monitoring Kit. West Health Institute was founded by another set of billionaire investors — Gary and Mary West.