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Intel inside your medical care

In-home device from the chipmaker will gather data and dispense advice remotely to chronically ill patients.

Intel has begun pilot programs to test a home health laptop, application, and database system that puts patients remotely in sync with their health care providers.

The Intel Health Guide, which includes a laptop for patients and an online interface for health care administrators, received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July. Now Aetna, Scan Health Plan, Erickson Retirement Communities, and the Providence Medical Group in Oregon have each begun pilot programs to test how well the system works, or doesn't work, with their patients.

Intel's Health Guide PHS6000 has built-in tools like blood pressure cuffs for reading vitals. Intel

"Health care is an area where getting and gathering the right information, and getting decisions made in a timely matter can make an enormous difference in patient care. We hope this technology helps with that," Mariah Scott, head of sales and marketing for Intel's Digital Health Group, said in an interview.

While many see health care moving into the home through technology, it seems like Intel knows government approval alone will not convince people to trust a tech company to dispense medical advice.

The company also announced that it has partnered with two major names in medicine, the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association, to provide the application's medical assessments, evidence-based treatment guidelines, and educational multimedia content.

That's probably a good idea because Intel plans to sell its Intel Health Care Management Suite as a comprehensive online data-collection system for health care organizations; the Intel Health Guide PHS6000 device is intended for patients themselves to operate, not experienced clinicians visiting the homebound as previously speculated.

The touch-screen interface includes extra-large icons for the least tech-savvy user. Intel

As is the case with the two pilot programs being run by Aetna, and Providence Medical Group in Oregon, organizations can also choose to program their own treatment guidelines into Intel's system, according to Scott.

Nurses or other health care professionals program, administer, and monitor the system remotely via an online connection to the device.

The laptop can activate at a specific time every day and sound a reminder chime. Once the patient responds, he or she is automatically run through a series of questions and prompts that can include taking vitals. Depending on a patient's needs, things like blood pressure cuffs and glucose measuring tools are already connected to the machine. Patients are given step-by-step instructions on how to use them.

But patients themselves will be responsible for inputting their medical data and following any medical instructions.

With that in mind, Intel has designed the Health Guide PHS6000's touch-screen laptop and interface to be easy for even the least tech-savvy and medically unaware person to use, according to Scott.

Intel's Health Guide PHS6000 is capable of video conferencing. Intel

It has extra-large touch-screen "buttons," step-by-step voice prompts, and text simultaneously read aloud as it appears onscreen.

Like Johnson & Johnson's online health care coach, the Intel device can also be used as a tool to educate patients on how best to take care.

If, for example, a patient with high blood pressure continues to have elevated pressure, the device might offer to show that person a video about managing hypertension, said Scott.

"They can then manage their patients and only need to intervene if something is not normal. That's one of the aspects of cost efficiency and labor productivity we hope to see with this system. Instead of needing to call every patient every day, they can see that data in a dashboard and only need to intervene if there's an issue or concern. That should help nurses or case managers move to more of a management by exception approach," said Scott.