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New Intel, GE Healthcare company to focus on in-home telehealth

Expanding on a previous partnership, Intel Corp. and General Electric Co. have announced a joint venture that targets the in-home use of telehealth systems to treat chronic conditions.

The new, as-yet-unnamed company will be based in Sacramento, Calif., and should be operational by year’s end, CNET News reports. The venture will be owned 50-50 by GE and Intel, CNET notes, and combine the assets of GE Healthcare’s Home Health division, which focuses on medical imaging, and Intel’s Digital Health Group, whose offerings range from an in-home patient monitor called Health Guide to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) integration appliance.

Louis Burns, now GM of Intel’s Digital Health, will be the new company’s CEO, and Omar Ishrak, senior VP of GE Healthcare, will be chairman, CNET says.

Intel and GE first teamed up in April 2009, when GE agreed to help Intel sell Health Guide and the two companies announced a five-year, $250 million investment in telehealth for the medical home, according to the San Jose Mercury News. That investment aims to address such health issues as treating cardiovascular disease, preventing injuries from falls and helping patients remember to take their medication.

No others details, financial or otherwise, accompanied yesterday’s announcement, and it’s unclear how this move will affect GE’s Healthymagination initiative.

In any event, it’s an ambitious plan, but a sound one. Both companies can surely afford the investment, and telehealth is poised to expand as the American population ages and requires increasingly specialized care. If the joint effort can overcome the many challenges that face telehealth — from integration with hospital software systems to usability challenges in the home — it very well could succeed.

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