GE jumps back into PERS

Intel, GE form alliance to R&D next generation of home healthcare innovation
Thursday, April 16, 2009

FAIRFIELD, Conn. and SANTA CLARA, Calif.--GE and Intel Corporation on April 2 announced an alliance to research, develop and market home-based health technologies with the aim of helping seniors and patients with chronic conditions live independently and manage their care from the comfort of their home or wherever they choose. The alliance is a plunge back into the PERS market after a decision made by GE in August of 2008 to discontinue its PERS CareGuard product line.

According to GE corporate public relations manager Arvind Gopalratnam, the partnership will have a profound impact on the PERS industry. "The goal of the partnership is to develop future technologies, and develop technologies that improve the healthcare that exists out there for either the disabled community or the elderly community," Gopalratnam said. "One of the big goals is to better empower the residents and the consumer ... to better be able to empower patients to take care of themselves."

Along with the partnership, the companies also announced an investment of more than $250 million over the next five years for research and product development of home-based health technologies. GE Healthcare will also sell the Intel Health Guide, a personal health system that aids in patients' self-monitoring of health status and provides a direct communications channel to healthcare professionals.

The GE Quiet Care solution already exists and is typical of the sort of solution the GE/Intel alliance will yield, making in-home health monitoring easier. "There are wireless sensors placed throughout a room, similar to those used in a home security system," Gopalratnam said. "They're there to gather baseline information about a resident, and specifically to learn the normal daily routine of a senior. If they have a tendency to go to the bathroom a lot, these wireless sensors monitor these activities, and if somebody deviates from that, the nurse or staff on call will be notified of that ... It's a way to seamlessly and noninvasively keep an eye on the elderly."

Gopalratnam also said while the effect of the GE/Intel partnership will be felt most immediately by the elderly, a day could be coming when beneficiaries of the healthcare alliance could include anyone wanting to monitor their health. "Right now it's the baby boomer generation. It's those who are getting older who need to either be in nursing homes or assisted living facilities," Gopalratnam said. "As the partnership gets a little older the focus should be more on the general consumer in all areas--not just the older population, but anybody who needs consistent monitoring of their health ... there's a huge potential for this, as two giant companies come together to really look at the market, look at what the needs are out there, and see what we could do to meet those needs."

According Mike Bodnar, general manager of PERS provider, SafetyCare, the alliance will benefit all. "At SafetyCare we see this as a positive thing for the industry. Two big companies coming together in the home health care environment really does validate the original SafetyCare model," Bodnar said. "Overall, the fact that two big boys like GE and Intel are partnering up to put product offerings out there ... It's going to be equipment related, and that's good news for the industry."