Intel continues to focus on way out health care solutions in their
efforts to get into the health care business. Fortunately they're
making billions (with a B) in new revenue just calling on hospital IT
departments and selling new servers. Of course that's not really being
in the health care business, it's just selling a horizontal product
into a vertical market.

Recollecting AT&T's foray into
health care with their PACS, I'm struck that many vendors outside of
health care chose to enter the market with radical solutions that
embody futuristic technology or unique solutions that attempt to pioneer
new applications or markets. Sort of like Intel's efforts to create
Healthcare Unbound solutions for remote monitoring or home health care.
Intel's done some great research and development, but it's for a market
does not yet really exist.

Intel's latest effort is the creation
of Behavioral Assessment and Intervention Commons, a grant program
targeting behavior marker research. The possible outcomes of this
research are impressive, if rather creepy:

  • Mobile phone technology that can detect changes in a person's voice
    that could be signs of a neurological disorder
  • The phone also could
    send the person alerts to see a physician if such changes were detected
  • Computer games that help test for Alzheimer's or other cognitive
    disorders. Sensors that track sleep patterns as early indicators of
    disease
  • Other technologies that can help clinicians monitor a person's movements to prevent falls or track erratic behavior

This story
in Health Data Management provides a good overview of the initiative.
The fact that someone is investing in basic research to improve health
care is great. But I wonder when the hard questions about return on
shareholder equity might weaken Intel's resolve.