INTEL'S CEO, Paul Otellini held a joint press conference with GE's chief, Jeff Immelt, today to announce a partnership on marketing and development of home-based health technologies, purportedly to help enable the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases to be cared for at home.
Explaining the dire conditions of the US health sector and noting that by 2030, some 71.5 million people in the US will be over 65 - almost 20 per cent of the total population - Otellini said both firms had come to the realisation that, "We have a big problem."
That problem, said Chipzilla-in-chief, could only be solved by integrating IT into hospitals and the healthcare system in general, to drive some of the astronomical costs down.
With 46 million Americans uninsured and with the population aging, Otellini reminded the audience the situation would soon become "untenable", admitting Intel's efforts thus far had "not been good enough" even after over a decade of research into healthcare.
In order to improve and attain its goal of providing people with personal healthcare, Otellini said his firm would partner with GE, which would ramp the deployment and sales of the Intel Health Guide, a care management tool for people with chronic conditions. Also, both firms would jointly pump $250 million into research and product development of home-based health technologies over the next five years.
The partnership means GE Healthcare and Intel will work together, in what Otellini referred to as a powerful combination, to speed up the commercialisation of next-generation home health technologies.
The firms will also expand their current development programmes to help with fall prevention, medication compliance, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and personal wellness monitoring.
Otellini noted that with his firm's capabilities in ethnographic research and technology development, joined with GE's strength in global distribution, the move would signify "a giant step forward in how to deliver healthcare to the home".
The move makes sense, in the current economic situation, Immelt reckoned, adding: "Improving healthcare accessibility and reducing costs are essential to economic recovery and growth. The GE chief added the partnership offered potentially lower costs by keeping people out of hospitals while giving health professionals "the data they need to deliver the best possible care".
Intel and GE, he gushed, shared a vision, "to use technology to bring effective healthcare into millions of homes and to improve the lives of seniors and people with chronic illness".
"Healthcare has to go home," chipped in Intel's Chip chief, who added the initiative was all about "keeping people out of hospitals and offering them a better quality of life". Immelt, with a little more honesty, added, however that he didn't think, "Paul or I would do anything if we didn't think it would become a multi billion dollar business over time".
The home health monitoring market is actually predicted to grow from $3 billion in 2009 to an estimated $7.7 billion by 2012, so it seems the two chiefs have something of a healthy outlook. And they're both getting on a bit, of course.
Along with Intel's Health guide, an in-home patient device which lets clinicians monitor patients at home and manage care remotely, GE is also already selling its own "Quiet Care" device, a remote passive-activity and behavioural monitoring system for seniors, which alerts carers to potential health issues or emergency situations like a fall or emerging health problem.
The devices are already in use across select assisted living facilities in the United States and in the UK - the NHS has already been buying up Intel's Health Guide technology under the Lothian Programme. µ
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