NEW YORK, April 2 (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) and Intel Corp (INTC.O) said on Thursday they are jointly developing products to help doctors monitor patients’ health remotely, reducing the time that the sick and elderly need to spend in hospitals or medical offices.
The U.S. conglomerate and the world’s largest chip maker said they will be investing $250 million over the next five years to develop new technologies in this field.
By treating patients remotely, the venture aims to reduce the cost of health care for the elderly and people with chronic conditions.
The two companies estimate current market demand for these products amounts to $3 billion a year, a figure that they expect to grow to $7.7 billion by 2012.
GE and Intel already have products on the market aimed at filling this niche. GE’s health care unit will take over distribution and marketing of Intel’s Health Guide product.
That product allows physicians to check vital signs like blood pressure and weight remotely and to provide patients with reminders related to their health, such as when to take medicine.
GE offers QuietCare, a system primarily used in nursing homes that tracks residents’ movements and can alert doctors to falls.
GE’s healthcare arm, which CEO Jeff Immelt headed before taking on the top job at the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company, also makes medical imaging devices like MRI machines. Profit at the unit last year fell 7 percent to $2.85 billion on revenue that rose 2 percent to $17.39 billion. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Derek Caney)