Intel's in-home health device gets FDA nod

Health management gadget, which remotely connects patients and doctors, is expected to hit the market by early 2009.

The new Intel Health Guide--which collects vital signs and allows for remote interactions between patient and doctor--may soon make its way into the homes of consumers with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the medical device, Intel announced Thursday.

The 8-pound in-home gadget connects caregivers and patients outside of hospitals or clinic settings. It manages vital-sign collection, patient reminders, educational content, and motivational messages. The device has a 40GB hard drive.

Intel health device
The Intel Health Guide can read vital signs wirelessly and hold two-way video conferences. Intel

Information collected by the device is sent to the health care professional, and from there, physician and patient can engage in video conferencing to discuss health issues. Doctors monitor and remotely care for their patients via an online interface using software called the Intel Health Care Management Suite. It currently runs on Windows XP only.

With the ability to hook up to wired and wireless monitors, such as glucose or blood pressure gauges, a caregiver can schedule times to remotely measure vital signs, or patients can check their own. The encrypted information is sent to a remote database, as long as the device is connected to the Internet via broadband.

"This is an important product that will improve the state and cost of health care around the world," Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Health Group, said in a statement. "We envision a wide range of usage models, not only chronic conditions such as CHF and diabetes, but also programs for health and wellness management at home."

The Intel Health Guide PHS6000 received FDA clearance to enter the market after years of development and research, including pilot studies in the United Kingdom and the U.S. Intel said it expects the product to be commercially available from health care providers by late 2008 or early 2009, with no price currently stated.

Intel joins several other companies in fusing technology and health care devices. Recently, IBM announced it could diagnose osteoporosis with a supercomputer. Other devices, such as an in-car system that measures glucose levels of diabetics and an implant that measures radiation in cancer patients, have also been developed.