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8/2/2010
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Intel, GE Announce Telehealth Joint Venture

The venture, combining GE Healthcare's Home Health division and Intel's Digital Health Group, will focus on chronic disease management, independent living and assistive technologies.

Intel and GE are launching a new joint venture to develop and sell telehealth products and services worldwide.

The new business will be owned 50/50 by Intel and GE, combining assets of GE Healthcare's Home Health division and Intel's Digital Health Group. The new venture is expected to become operational by end of the year, pending regulatory and "other customary closing conditions," the companies said.

The new business builds upon an Intel-GE alliance formed in April 2009 to focus on development of technologies and services for chronic disease management and independent living.

The new venture will focus on three major segments including chronic disease management, independent living at home and in assisted living communities, and assistive technologies.

Over the last five years, Intel has spent time in about 1,000 households of chronically ill patients in many countries to understand the needs of those individuals, said Louis Burns, general manager of Intel Digital Health Group, during an Intel-GE webcast announcing the new venture. Burns was named CEO of the joint venture.

There are about 1 billion chronically ill people worldwide, and about half of them have more than one chronic illness, whether it's diabetes, heart problems or other conditions, said Omar Ishrak , CEO of GE Healthcare Systems, who has been named chairman of the new entity. Meanwhile, increasing healthcare costs and aging populations are growing global challenges, he said.

"There's a huge potential marketplace" for the new entity to deliver "cost-effective, enterprise, scalable solutions to reach millions of people," said Burns.

Together, GE and Intel's joint venture is focused on bringing home healthcare solutions globally to the chronically ill to help them live independently, "reducing healthcare costs and increasing agility in how people are cared for," he said.

Both companies will contribute telehealth technologies and assets to the joint venture, including Intel's Health Guide, Intel Health Reader and GE QuietCare.

The new entity will tap into the expertise of both parent companies, and there are no plans to spin off the joint-venture into a separate company. However, the venture will be open to working with and partnering with other companies, Ishrak said.

"This joint venture will represent the home health business for Intel and GE worldwide," Ishrak said.

The entity--which hasn't been named yet, will be headquartered in Sacramento, Calif. and is expected to be staffed by "hundreds," said Burns.

During the year or so GE and Intel have been working together in their home healthcare alliance, many of the technical challenges to delivering home health care solutions to the aging and chronically ill have been tackled, said Burns.

The more difficult challenges remain in healthcare providers, insurers, governments and others changing their "business models and payment" policies to support the use of these at-home technologies, the GE and Intel executives said.

In the future, there "might be a mix of who pays, insurers, government and consumers," Ishrak said.

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