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Wellness Comes Home With New Intel Device

Intel on Sunday launched a home health care device that helps patients manage chronic conditions and connect with their doctors.

The Intel Health Guide PHS6000 looks like a mini-desktop computer and collects patient data such as blood pressure, weight and blood-glucose levels. Blood-pressure-measuring devices; weight scales; a spirometer, which measures the amount of air going into and out of lungs; a pulse oximeter, which measures oxygen saturation in the blood; and blood-glucose monitors can be connected to it.

Designed mostly for elderly patients, the device provides access to doctors through videoconferencing over a secured wired-broadband connection. Health care providers also receive data collected by the device via the connection so that they can monitor how patients are doing. That could reduce the number of patient visits to a hospital, said Louis Burns, vice president of Intel's Digital Health Group at a press conference Thursday

The device maintains a history of the medical-data readings to help in triage and early disease detection. Intel has teamed with health-services organizations such as Aetna so that patients have access to nurses and doctors who are on call throughout the day.

Using the readings it receives from patients, the device's Health Care Management Suite software also displays educational videos. For example, during a demonstration of the device when it detected high blood pressure in one patient, it asked further questions and then told the patient that he possibly had hypertension, after which a video explained what that means.

To provide such medical information to patients, Intel has licensed content from organizations including the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the device for sale in the U.S. Intel did not provide a price for it and said it will be available through medical service providers.

The device includes a 10.4-inch touch screen, an Intel Core-based processor, a 40G-byte hard drive, a webcam, four USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. It has a speaker so that visually impaired patients can hear instructions.

Intel designed the device and tried to simplify the interface with elderly patients in mind, knowing they can be overwhelmed by technology, said Julie Cherry, a registered nurse and director of product marketing at Intel. The company found during research that some elderly people are concerned that webcams would breach their privacy. To tackle that, Intel put a cover on the device's webcam.

The Senior Care Action Network Health Plan (SCAN), a health care organization, is deploying the device on a trial basis later this month with the aim of being able to treat patients more quickly. About 60 percent of SCAN's members have chronic conditions and trouble walking, said Hank Osowski, senior vice president for corporate development at SCAN.

"We'll be able to get to more people in time via the data and the information," Osowski said. For example, if medical data shows any abnormality, nurses from the organization can call and intervene early, Osowski said.

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