Intel announced on July 16 that it would install more connectivity options in its Intel Health Guide, a compact white box with a screen that allows users to check their recent health history and connect with a physician or health care provider.
The updated Intel Health Guide will have the ability to connect patients with their health care providers via cable/DSL broadband, as well as 3G/cellular wireless and residential phone service. This will likely translate into increased ease of use for what is regarded as the device's signature feature, the ability to transmit health data as well as video by integrated camera.
"We believe that deploying technology in the home can help pave the way for a more personalized, cost-effective health care system and we will continue to innovate and develop products that achieve this," Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of the Intel Digital Health Group, said in a statement. "With more than 80 percent of health care spending focused on patients with one or more chronic diseases, we need to work together to make dramatic changes to how care is delivered."
The Intel Health Guide has been integrated into the health care offerings of a number of in-home care and health services organizations, including Providence Life Services, Spectrum Medical and Proactive Healthcare.
In April, Intel and General Electric jointly announced that they would invest $250 million over the next five years to develop health care IT technologies, including the Intel Health Guide. Both companies suggested that the market for "telehealth" and home health monitoring would likely double from $3 billion in 2009 to $7.7 billion by 2012, as the population of Americans aged 65 and over increases to 20 percent of the total population, or about 71.5 million people.
Intel and GE will pool their R&D efforts, expanding their development programs to focus on technology for fall prevention, medication compliance, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and personal wellness monitoring. The Intel Digital Health Group plans to create digital networks that will allow health care providers to build and manage platforms for issues such as nurse workflow and disease vector paths.
"Most of the discourse [in health care] today is around integrating medical technology," Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel, said during an April 2 presentation announcing the partnership. However, "This is not a business that's going to have instant returns."
Given the burgeoning size of the health care IT space, other major IT companies have decided to enter with their own products. On March 31, Google announced a pilot program in partnership with CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) that would let Medicare beneficiaries import Medicare claims data into the Google Health platform.
Also in March, Oracle announced the acquisition of Relsys International, a company that provides IT applications for drug safety and risk management, as part of a larger plan to position itself as a health care software applications provider. The acquisition could lead to Oracle taking market share in the fields of clinical development, post-market surveillance and patient care ops.
A few weeks later, on April 22, Microsoft announced that its HealthVault application would be used as the foundation for the Mayo Clinic Health Manager, a personal health record service designed to allow Mayo Clinic patients to share information with their caregivers. Like Google Health, HealthVault allows patients to store medical information in an online database.