Sunday, August 16, 2009

Enabling Connected Care

As a family doctor in a small town for 20 years, Mark N. Blatt, M.D. Director, Healthcare Industry Solutions, within Intel’s Digital Health Group, said he knew that connected health could change healthcare. He was a keynote speaker at the “Enabling Point-of-Care Diagnostics” program held at the “Next Generation DX Summit” held on August 10th in Washington D.C.

As Dr. Blatt pointed out, our society is faced with an enormous problem. Today, 91 percent of patients have one or more chronic diseases and that means that 83 percent of healthcare spending now goes to treating those patients. To compound the problem, baby boomers over 65 will have a number of chronic diseases. It is projected that by 2050, there will be 2 billion people over 65 with chronic diseases which will result in severe problems in terms of costs and the care needed.

Dr. Blatt said legislators are looking to improve treatments for chronic diseases in the U.S. In May 2009, the “Independence at Home Act” was introduced in the House and a similar bill was introduced in the Senate. The bills call for establishing a voluntary at home chronic care coordination pilot. This pilot would provide for electronic medical records and electronic health information technology to be used to coordinate the patient’s healthcare. The primary goal would be to provide patients with chronic diseases access to coordinated primary care medical services in lower cost treatment settings.

Dr, Blatt said that Intel is focusing on connected healthcare to provide for effective and less costly chronic disease management. Researchers are working on new technologies that use sensors and remote technologies and are moving to develop personalized, self-managed, timely, and cost effective care.

For example, the “Intel Health Guide” a comprehensive next generation remote patient monitoring solution combines an in-home patient device with an online interface enables clinicians to monitor patients and remotely manage care.

Intel has several other ongoing pilot projects. The Parkinson’s home pilot is collecting objective measures regularly and accurately from patients’ home. The Intel CAMP pilot uses technology to make certain that people take the right pill at the right time. Since this program has been in use, compliance in taking medications is up by 50 percent. Intel’s Gait and Fall Clinical System now prevents hospitalizations by using cameras and sensors to prevent falls.

The future calls for the development of devices that provide two way communication along with 24/7 connection. According to Dr. Blatt, it is very important to use the latest connecting technologies to treat not only chronic diseases in the U.S., but equally important to develop technologies to combat worldwide diseases and epidemics especially as needed in the worldwide emerging market arena.

As Dr. Blatt explained, teleradiology, telepsychology, telepathology, and teleophthalmology have been in use in emerging countries for some time, but in addition, simpler devices are needed to monitor and treat common illnesses. Healthcare workers in emerging countries have mostly an 8th grade education and need to deal with a high volume of cases which they usually treat using mostly low technology solutions. These countries need to have a simple device on hand to collect vital signs and at the same time, be able to send and receive information from other sources in real-time.

Dr. Blatt concluded that if the country wants to transform healthcare, the future absolutely requires using two way point-of-care technologies to reduce healthcare costs, develop devices that are simple for the patient and health worker to use, and make devices available to enable interactive educational possibilities.

The Conference was coordinated and produced by Cambridge Healthtech Institute in Needham MA. For more information, go to or call (781)972-5400 for future programs. For the complete agenda on the “Enabling Point-of-Care Diagnostics” program, go to