Intel Medical Device Wins FDA Approval

The Intel Health Guide, which includes a small touch-screen PC and online interface to connect patients to doctors, has won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Intel plans to start selling the PC and health care services later in 2008.

Intel is now a step closer to becoming its own health care shop.

On July 10, Intel announced that it had received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin selling a personal health care system dubbed the Intel Health Guide, which includes a small touch-screen PC and a Web portal to allow patients to communicate with their doctors.

The Intel Health Guide represents a fairly large next step in the company's efforts to drill down into very specific vertical markets. In years past, Intel has touted its chips and other technologies such as vPro-a series of security and management features built into the silicon itself-as a platform for building notebooks, desktops and tablets PCs for health care institutions that have both processing power and the security to handle sensitive patient records.

As microprocessors become smaller-Intel has 45-nanometer processors already and it plans to produce 32-nanometer chips in 2009-it becomes easier to create small devices and mobile form factors for specific fields like health care, and then hook these devices to the Internet. Other chip makers, such as Advanced Micro Devices and Texas Instruments, are experimenting with other technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification).

Intel has also experimented with RFID technology, and on the same day it received the FDA approval the chip maker announced it would sell its own RFID division to Impinj to develop new chip technology. While both companies declined to discuss financial information, reports indicated that Intel will have a stake in Impinj.

Now with Health Guide, Intel is signaling that it can handle a range of services designed to help with patient care. The Intel Health Guide also looks to save insurance companies and other health care companies money by shifting some of the burden of monitoring patients with ongoing or chronic health problems to the home and out of the hospital.

"With more people living with chronic diseases, we believe care can be increasingly moved outside of the hospital to the home," Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Health Group, said in a statement. "Through our research, we've learned that a home-based model of care becomes more than just delivering care to patients at home-it is about creating connections to family, friends, caregivers, and the care team."

The technologies that go into the Intel Health Guide include a specialized touch-screen PC that can be attached, both wired and wirelessly, to a number of different medical devices including blood pressure monitors, glucose meters and weight scales. The information from the patient is sent through the Internet to a secure host server and then that collected information can be shared with doctors.

Now that Intel has FDA approval, it will conduct additional tests of the Health Guide throughout the next several months before putting it on sale in both the United States and United Kingdom in either the fourth quarter of 2008 or the first half of 2009.