Intel explores telemedicine

Intel is on the telemedicine bandwagon and is using its considerable clout to urge government leaders to tap the burgeoning technology to help solve the economic and social challenges brought on by skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Intel is on the telemedicine bandwagon and is using its considerable clout to urge government leaders to tap the burgeoning technology to help solve the economic and social challenges brought on by skyrocketing healthcare costs and a rapidly growing population of aging citizens.

Speaking in December at the White House Conference on Aging, held once a decade, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett said, "We can make the healthcare system more cost-efficient while simultaneously improving the quality of care and life for our nation's aging population."

He's got that right, but it's a race against time.

With nearly 35 million senior citizens today, the United States spends 16% of its Gross Domestic Product on healthcare, a figure likely to hit 25% as the number of senior citizens doubles during the next 20 to 30 years.

Put more narrowly, the U.S. population of those aged 85 and older is exploding from 3 million in 1990 to a projected 5.7 million in 2010 and 17.7 million in 2050, according to U.S. Census Bureau. There simply aren't enough physicians and nurses to go around

In a direct boost to telemedicine technology, Barrett says a broad range of personal-health technologies designed to go into the home will help an aging population maintain its independence while deferring costly institutional care.

Intel is researching innovations in sensors, software and wireless technologies that allow vital information about heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and sleep patterns to be tracked remotely.

The company is leveraging its expertise in broadband Internet connectivity to allow data to be shared in real time between seniors and healthcare professionals, as well as among family members who deliver the majority of care to seniors.


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