General Electric and Intel have joined forces to develop hi-tech health care products that will allow patients to be treated at home.

The companies will invest €184m ($250m) in the project over the next five years to market and develop home-based health technologies that will help older people live independently and patients with chronic conditions manage their care from home.

With ageing populations they predict the market for telehealth and home health monitoring will rapidly grow from €2.2 billion ($3 billion) in 2009 to €5.7 billion ($7.7 billion) by 2012.

In a joint statement, the partners said: “The combination of Intel’s leading capabilities in ethnographic research and technology development combined with GE’s world-class expertise and global distribution strengths in healthcare IT, electronic medical records, critical care and passive monitoring is a strong strategic fit.”

An early example of the kinds of products the partners will work on is the Intel Health Guide, which was launched last year and allows doctors to remotely monitor, diagnose and consult with patients in their homes.

The new alliance covers both joint research and development efforts and a commercial partnership, under which GE Healthcare will sell and market the Intel Health Guide personal health system. The system is already in use in the UK by West Lothian in Scotland.

Intel is the world’s largest chip maker but has been making heavy investments in home and personal healthcare over the past few years, including being the prime move behind the industry standards body Continua.

GE already has very significant healthcare divisions ranging from medical devices and imaging products through to healthcare IT.

Neither company has been immune to the effects of the global economic downturn but they were confident that this could become a multi billion dollar business.

At the New York launch event, Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive said the aim was to create a multi-billion business in consumer e-health monitoring and management tools and services.

"Neither Intel nor GE does anything to create small businesses," Immelt told the BBC. "We do things to create big businesses."

Immelt said: “Intel and GE share a vision to use technology to bring effective healthcare into millions of homes and to improve the lives of seniors and people with chronic illness. Together we can deliver innovative products to serve this rapidly growing market."

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini, said: “Otellini commented, "Most of the healthcare discussions today focus on the integration of more technology into traditional healthcare settings. While those investments are necessary and will create a more efficient healthcare system, it is not sufficient to meet the growing needs that are about to impact a system that is already at a saturation point. The GE and Intel partnership will not only help seniors and the chronically ill, but will also take a giant step forward in changing how healthcare is delivered."

The new alliance covers global product research and development that will see the partners combine their research resources “to accelerate the innovation and commercialisation of next-generation home health technologies.”

Both companies also plan to expand their current development programs in home health and independent living technologies to include new areas such as fall prevention, medication compliance, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and personal wellness monitoring.

Both companies recently announced their involvement in externally funded independent living and home health research programs. GE Healthcare is leading a consortium of private and public sector organisations in a €3.7m ($5m) three-year home health research program funded by the Hungarian government. Intel and the Irish Development Agency have established a €22.1m ($30m) Technology Research for Independent Living.


Intel and GE Healthcare Alliance

Intel’s Health Guide is available at