Intel joins health IT standards effort

Intel chairman: Big employers should push health IT

An Intel executive said yesterday that the company is working on health data interchange standards and will have something to show for its efforts this year.

“Our belief is that you cannot and should not wait for the government to solve this problem,” Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Health Group, said at a press conference in San Francisco.

Burns refused to provide specifics about the standards initiative as he described Intel’s health information technology programs, which extend to telemedicine and special tablet PCs for doctors to use on their rounds, complete with a digital stethoscope that records heart rates automatically.

Burns said the government is making some progress toward breaking down the barriers to widespread use of health IT, and he said Intel would continue to work with the government. He said that Intel Chairman Craig Barrett is a member of the American Health Information Community, the advisory panel that Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt heads.

The high cost of keeping medical records on paper and the use of devices that are not interoperable are urgent problems for the public, employers and medical workers, Burns said. For example, “it’s killing these guys inside the hospital” because they use too much effort writing interfaces to link devices with their information systems, he said.

Someday, Burns predicted, chip-based diagnostic devices will be commonplace. They will analyze a drop of blood and provide an instant report to the doctor, eliminating the need for a visit to a lab for blood tests.

Intel is working on health care as part of its “platformization” program, inaugurated last year. That program has the company working more closely with users and buyers of computers and other devices and tailoring its products to meet specific market needs.

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