Intel, GE Telehealth Joint Venture Opens for Business

Intel and GE have officially launched Care Innovations, a joint venture focused on assistive technologies for the elderly and those living with chronic conditions.

Intel and GE Healthcare have announced that their telehealth joint venture, Intel-GE Care Innovations, officially launched as of Jan. 3 and received full regulatory clearance.

The new company will focus on technologies to help the elderly remain in their homes as well as independently in senior living facilities.

In addition, Care Innovations will develop technologies to help people living with chronic conditions and tackle the problem of rising health care costs, Intel reports.

"Our vision as we launch this exciting new company is for Care Innovations to positively affect millions of people by providing innovative products and services that will enable new models of care," Louis Burns, CEO of Care Innovations, said in a statement.

The partnership combines the teams of GE Healthcare's Home Health division and Intel's Digital Health Group.

Intel and GE had also announced collaboration in the areas of fall prevention, medication compliance, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease and personal wellness monitoring.

The two companies began their alliance in April 2009, and on Aug. 2 they announced the creation of the joint venture on telehealth and independent living.

For the Aug. 2 joint venture announcement, Paul Otellini, Intel's president and CEO, discussed how new methods of health care are necessary to deal with society's health issues, such as aging and chronic conditions.

"We must rethink models of care that go beyond hospital and clinic visits, to home and community-based care models that allow for prevention, early detection, behavior change and social support," Otellini said in a statement.

At the time of the Aug. 2 announcement, Jeff Immelt, GE's chairman and CEO, described how telehealth technology for the aging population could help lower health care costs.

"Controlling health care costs while bringing quality care to an increasingly aging population is one of the largest global challenges we face today," Immelt said in a statement. "We think this joint venture will offer great potential to address these challenges by improving the quality of life for millions while lowering health care costs through new technology."

Core products under the Care Innovations umbrella will include Intel Health Guide, Intel Reader and GE QuietCare.

The Intel Health Guide is a remote-management platform that combines Intel's Health Guide PHS6000 in-home patient device and Health Care Management Suite software. The platform allows doctors and patients to communicate via voice and video through cable/DSL broadband, cellular or residential phone connections.

The chip giant's assistive technology device, called Intel Reader, transfers text to speech for people with vision impairments. An Intel Atom CPU powers the device to keep text-to-speech conversion fast, according to Intel. It also features a full color LCD with large type for users who can see but have difficulty reading text.

The GE QuietCare System consists of wireless, camera-free sensors and analysis software to detect elderly residents who need assistance. The sensors send the data to an offsite server for analysis of potential emergencies, behavioral changes and emerging health trends, according to GE.

Telehealth is a growing segment of health care for people who can't travel to a medical facility, including veterans in rural areas.

In addition to Intel and GE, other companies active in telehealth include American Well and Kaiser Permanente.