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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Qualcomm Life

March 12, 2013

Malin Burnham, Irwin Jacobs and Ernest Rady recently had a chat about the future of San Diego in front of the 700 people attending USD’s Annual Burnham Moores Real Estate Conference. One idea in particular, that San Diego can become the medical center of the Southwest US, has all the characteristics of an achievable dream: the right target, a solid foundation of resources, and current growth that can propel the idea to reality.

These men put their philanthropy behind the key ingredients needed to build a medical powerhouse. The Burnham, Rady and Jacobs names can be found on research institutes (Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute), state-of-the-art existing healthcare centers (Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego), and the emerging UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center which envisions putting “the world’s best medical care in our backyard.”

Combine this medical research and clinical infrastructure with San Diego’s developing wireless health sector and you’ve got a compelling vision for future economic growth based around healthcare. For example, Qualcomm Life, a Qualcomm company, is working on device connectivity and data management to enable medical device manufacturers to deliver wireless health applications quickly and easily to those who need it.

Health services already employ 10 percent of San Diego’s workforce – including 7,000 physicians. Current employment numbers for healthcare in the region do not include life sciences or wireless health. As biotech, information technology and health service delivery increasingly intersect, employment in this super-sector will become an even more central economic driver. To prepare for the future, major healthcare construction projects are underway in the region. The four largest projects account for nearly $1.5 billion in contracts and 14,000 onsite jobs.

In addition to Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego Health System, San Diegans have a range of choices for healthcare including Scripps Health, Sharp HealthCare, and Kaiser Permanente. What will drive national and international interest and demand is the growing number of nationally ranked specialties. Currently, UC San Diego Medical Center has nationally ranked specialties in Pulmonology, Nephrology, Geriatrics, and Urology. Scripps La Jolla Hospitals and Clinics have national rankings in Cardiology and Heart Surgery.