After over three years of research, development, and market study, Intel announced the launch of the Intel Health Guide, an Intel-branded device for remotely monitoring and managing patients with chronic illness at home.
From Intel’s demo one can see that the device is a laptop computer no keyboard and a reversed touch-screen. Patients can connect and upload blood pressure monitors and other medical devices to communicate results with remote health care providers. In addition to vital sign data collection, the health monitoring software also provides patient reminders, surveys, educational content, and other communication tools.
Although Intel appears to be targeting at the same chronic disease management market, the Health Guide from Intel adds features and functions far beyond its predecessor Health Buddy from Health Hero Network, now a division of Robert Bosch. It will be interesting to see whether or the enhanced functionality such as video conferencing and multimedia content will be the key to market adoption.
The real barriers to adoption of remote monitoring and other chronic care strategies may be less about functionality than about institutional incentives and business models ingrained in our health care system. The health care market with Medicare in the lead still rewards health care providers far more for treating the complications of chronic illness than it does for proactive management and monitoring aimed at preventing them.
The incentive systems that determine the viability of new models of health care enabled by devices like the Intel Health Guide and the Bosch Health Buddy could be about to change, however. With favorable results from the Medicare chronic care improvement demonstration project currently underway from Health Hero Network in Washington and Oregon, Medicare coverage for health care providers to offer home health monitoring services may be around the corner.
Steve Brown is an entrepreneur and active board member in innovative software and Internet businesses. He is the founder and former CEO of Health Hero Network, a pioneer in ehealth and remote health monitoring, acquired by Bosch in 2007. Steve Brown blogs at http://brown2020.com.