Yesterday, Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel, and Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, stood together on the same platform to launch a joint strategy to go after the worldwide telehealth and telecare markets. It is backed by an investment of US$ 250 million over 5 years and, although Jeff Immelt is on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Board, this is the companies’ own money, not stimulus funding.
Jeff Immelt and Paul Otellini
I noticed that the terms ‘teleheath’ or ‘telecare’ were not used at any time in the press conference (although ‘telemedicine’ slipped in a couple of times during answers to questions), but those are the markets in the companies’ sights. I guess they are happy to leave the US ‘panic alarms’ market to Philips Lifeline and the hundreds of other smaller companies providing those services, while they turn their attention to the next paradigm.
So, what are they planning? It boils down to combining Intel’s R&D expertise (a “global product research and development alliance”) and GE’s marketing clout to attack the telehealth market from Intel’s Health Guide base and the telecare market from GE’s QuietCare base. (“GE Healthcare will sell and market the Intel Health Guide”)
The market was likened to the digital music market before MP3 players took off – there is a pent-up demand (in this case in health and care systems) that is waiting for the right product(s) to unlock it.
Although one comment I have seen categorised this partnership as “tying two bricks together to see if they float”, I suspect that if you are still now a small company in this field, the best that you can hope for is that your technology and expertise in implementation is good enough for the big companies to want to buy you up. It will be interesting to see what branding the QuietCare system as ‘GE’s QuietCare’ means for the employees of the Living Independently Group that developed it.
I also think that, like most technophiles, GE and Intel currently underestimate the potential resistance from doctors. In response to my question on this, an example was given where a sceptical doctor had been ‘converted’ when he saw the benefits for his patients, and another where the system recently spotted that a patient was heading for a heart attack in good time for it to be prevented.
However, there is a big gap between those sorts of appeals to common sense, to which most people will respond, and the drag anchor alliance of unhelpful legislation and procurement regimes, care payment systems that ‘require’ patients to go to the care rather than allow the care to come to them, and doctors who can’t change, won’t change.
Read the GE / Intel press release and access other materials.