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Intel sets out to change the world with personal healthcare systems

Opinion
Mar 13, 20065 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Technology to change how we live and how long we live

Amid the splash of the Consumer Electronics Show this past January, much attention was lavished on the entertainment aspect of what’s to come. One of my friends attended the Bill Gates keynote and was head over heels crazy about Media Center PCs as the center of his home universe. (My friend clearly has “screenus” envy after seeing that Gates showed a “huge wide display” that puts his own wimpy little 24” panel to shame.)

Amid the splash of the Consumer Electronics Show this past January, much attention was lavished on the entertainment aspect of what’s to come. One of my friends attended the Bill Gates keynote and was head over heels crazy about Media Center PCs as the center of his home universe. (My friend clearly has “screenus” envy after seeing that Gates showed a “huge wide display” that puts his own wimpy little 24” panel to shame.)

Beyond the Gates keynote, vendors from every corner of the earth showed devices and services of every ilk, designed to bring you music, videos, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, conference calls, photos, games, and just about anything else that can keep you amused and entertained.

But will it change the world? Hardly. Does it really matter how many songs I can download onto a fingernail-sized device, or how many photos I can send around the world in an instant, or that my e-mail can find me anywhere, whether I want it to or not? I mean, it’s cool stuff, but it won’t impact my life much.

But there were some things shown and discussed at CES that have the real potential to change not only how we live, but how long we live. My colleague Cheryl Currid took part in a panel covering the personal healthcare market. This group of experts presented a view of how we as consumers can take greater responsibility in our health and well being. And the surprising company behind much of this effort is…Intel.

About a year ago, Intel had a major restructuring that created a Digital Health Group. While you might have thought this meant the digital health of your network, it’s really about the digital health of you.

As the costs of medical care continue to skyrocket, and easy access to high quality care gets harder to come by, Intel wants to put devices in our hands and homes that allow us to provide rudimentary care to ourselves and our loved ones. Intel’s Digital Health Group is launching Personal Health Platforms to help maintain a healthy lifestyle or manage chronic diseases such as diabetes; to support community clinics where the nearest doctor might be hundreds of miles away; and to support assisted living for the elderly.

These new platforms might look very foreign to us. Some might have the look and feel of a typical PC, but others will look much more like specialty medical devices. They’ll have one thing in common, however: Intel components and partnerships to help standardize the interoperability and performance of the devices. (Intel helped drive standards in the PC industry; think what it can do with medical devices.)

As an example, what if you could connect your blood pressure monitor to your PC through a USB port? You could check your blood pressure several times a day and chart the results automatically. Software on the PC or the Web can interpret the results and direct you to a diet and/or set of behaviors that can help normalize your blood pressure. Your doctor, of course, also would be privy to the results and would have a hand in directing your care and your lifestyle to improve your medical condition or ensure your well being. But for the first time, you can have access to your medical data points so that you can actively control them.

Or how about your aging parent who lives alone? Mom might be a little forgetful about taking her medications at the right time. An interactive medicine cabinet can remind Mom when it’s time to take her insulin. And if she doesn’t respond to the cabinet, it can page you to let you know that Mom hasn’t followed her prescribed routine. You can intervene before a medical emergency arises.

It’s power to the people. These devices – and the information they provide – allow us to take control like never before. These Personal Health Platforms can revolutionize medical care like E-Trade revolutionized investing.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Intel is making significant investments in digital health. The company is garnering plenty of attention for its efforts, too. Just last December, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett gave a keynote address at the White House Conference on Aging, where he talked about how technology can help seniors age gracefully at home. Intel is also a founding member of the Center for Aging Services Technology (CAST), a consortium of more than 400 companies, universities, associations and long-term care providers that are exploring new ways to bring healthcare and wellness care to the aging population.

Watch for some exciting announcements about digital health coming this year, and get geared up for how it can change your life.