In an op-ed piece, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said the United States needs to move away from a centralized health care system to a distributed one, where people take a greater responsibility for their well-being and technology can help connect them with their health care providers. Otellini's comments come as health care moves to the forefront of the national debate, and as technology vendors like Intel and Cisco look for ways that technology can be used to increase the reach of health care while lowering its costs.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini believes the
national debate around health care reform needs to move away from doctors in
hospital and toward individuals in their homes.
Weighing in on the issue that is at the forefront of the Obama
administration's agenda, Otellini in an op-ed piece in
Politico July 27 argued that the old way of people traveling to a central
hospital after getting sick no longer can hold up in an era of growing numbers
of uninsured and underinsured people and with $2.4 trillion in health care
Instead, policy makers should be looking at what Otellini called a "personal
health" strategy that shifts the responsibility of a person's well-being from
only being on caregivers and puts more of it on the individual.
He also said that advancements in technology and communications have reached
the point where such a strategy makes sense.
"We require a cultural reformation-a new social covenant in which each of us
becomes more informed, engaged and proactive about our health, wellness and
care," Otellini wrote. "True cost savings and quality improvements in health
care will come from providing incentives for-and using modern technologies to
enable-better prevention, early detection, self-care, chronic disease
management and adherence to care plans that custom-fit our personal lives."
Like other technology vendors, Intel sees a huge opportunity in health care
to not only ring up profits, but also improve the way health care is delivered.
Intel-which has a Digital Health Group unit-and General Electric in April announced
an initiative in which the companies will invest $250 million over the next
five years to develop health care IT solutions.
More recently, Cisco Systems earlier this month announced a venture with
UnitedHealth Group to create
a network that will enable doctors to reach patients virtually, bringing
health care to such underserved areas as rural communities and urban centers.
Otellini said that enhancements in technology and communications have
improved the way people conduct business in just about every industry except
health care. He pointed to the financial services space, where fewer and fewer
people need to travel to a building to do their banking. Instead, they have a
host of financial services available to them online.
"We have a more personal, engaged and proactive role in the management of
our own finances-with experts who can help from both bricks-and-mortar and
online locations in our communities," Otellini wrote. "So, too, we must invent
and invest in a distributed model of personal health."
He broke out five recommendations for policy makers in addressing the health
care debate, including pushing a personal health care initiative, paying
doctors and nurses based on outcomes and performances-rather than on
face-to-face patient visits-and creating a system where every patient has a
person coordinating their care plan, a move that would require basic IT
capabilities such as electronic health records.
Otellini also suggested using comparative effectiveness funding "to evaluate
the benefits and trade-offs of a wide range of person health technologies,"
including secure doctor-patient e-mail, electronic medicine prescriptions,
remote patient monitoring and telehealth, video consultation and online
community support. The last recommendation was the creation of a competitive
personal health work force of "virtual care clinicians."
Otellini said he does see technology and innovation as the only answer to
the country's health care issues.
"But we should not believe that we can produce one right answer for how to
do health care for the next 100 years or that we can sustain our expensive and
inefficient pilgrimage model of medicine," he wrote. "Aiming for a home-centric
personal health vision-and designing our policy, expectations and
infrastructure so that we can continuously innovate health care-will help
achieve the reformation we need."