Why Telefonica Digital is buying a medical care provider

04 Feb, 2013

Here’s something that was entirely expected: Telefonica Digital just announced that it bought a controlling stake in Axismed, Brazil’s largest chronic care management provider in Brazil. Axismed’s services are used to monitor more than 180.000 chronic patients across the country.

Thanks to Telefonica’s know how and reach, Axismed will be able to turn itself into a truly multiplatform player. It plans to extend its services with mobile applications, SMS, internet, web and video conferencing, but its plans extend beyond that.

According to the press release, within the first year the platform will also enable

the transmission of bio metrics data through connected devices in the patient’s house, which will measure glucose levels, blood pressure and other physiological indicators, based on each individual’s specific case.

The long term play of Telefonica is clear: rather than a “dumb pipe” that transports data, it wants to become the eyes, ears and brains of (certain, profitable parts of ) the internet of things.

This move comes as no surprise – at a recent conference in London, Swisscom CEO Dieter Bernauer already urged the telecoms in Europe to go in this direction.

He said: instead of worrying about applications like Viber and WhatsApp that squeeze the telco’s profits, “focus on vertical markets and provide end-to-end solutions to customers in carefully chosen adjacent markets”. If they do that well, said Bernauer, there’s no reason why the wild, profitable nineties wouldn’t return for the telecoms.

Health monitoring is a perfect vertical for a telco, because it a perfectly proprietary, high value chain of hardware, software, connectivity, internet of things (smart sensing) and services. Swisscom, as we wrote earlier, is already present in this market, so it’s no surprise to see Telefonica go there too.

Where else to expect the telecoms to go? Well, apart from health care Swisscom is also active in home security.

[Telefonica][photo: Flickr, Björn Gramm]

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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