Thursday Jun 09 2011
Putting the ‘care’ back in health care
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
Roseville company vows to transform health care through technology
When Care Innovations employees enter their Roseville office, they walk pass a wall covered with dozens of black and white photographs. Some photos show a staffer’s mom who suffers from cancer, a father who died young or a child who is dyslexic. Each photo represents the inspiration behind why the 75 or so local employees work for this company, said CEO Louis Burns. The reason is ultimately the same for all: To improve the longevity and quality of life for people through medical technology. “You probably think we start with technology,” Burns said. “We don’t. We start with people.” Care Innovations hosted a grand opening at its new Roseville headquarters June 3 — the company has branches in Oregon, New York City, and facilities in London and Australia — and explained how this company, a joint venture between Intel and GE, will transform health care. The company moved to the office space in May, where they will develop the technology they say will launch this transformation. The recent grand opening was a who’s-who of political and business leaders in the region. Roseville Mayor Pauline Roccucci, City Manager Ray Kerridge, Roseville Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Gerig, Police Chief Daniel Hahn and Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Mahood were among those eager to hear about Care Innovations’ involvement in the field of health and aging services. “I’m totally energized,” Roccucci, a registered nurse, said. She thanked the company for locating in Roseville. Care Innovations is largely driven by the vision and research of social scientist and Director of Health Policy Eric Dishman, who says the health care crisis must be addressed through tech-based solutions that create a network of home-based care for all. This crisis centers on the fact that there will be 1.2 billion people worldwide over the age of 60 by 2025. This global aging problem will strain resources, as the demand for medications, doctor visits, hospital stays and treatment will increase — at a huge cost to the public. Dishman, who was not in attendance at the grand opening, says the “crisis-based, reactive hospital” model is outdated and inadequate to address this future challenge. In a video shown at the grand opening, Dishman explains that industry, academia and government must re-imagine how society performs health care. “This is an imagination problem,” he said. So, Care Innovations focuses on the home. The goal is to enable 50 percent of care in the United States to be delivered in the home by 2020. The company plans to achieve this by developing assistive technologies that support healthy, independent living at home and in senior housing communities. To do so, they conducted ethnographic studies, visiting with members of 1,000 households in 20 countries to gather data. Next they build prototypes tested in real settings — households, hospitals, senior care facilities — before introducing the equipment to the marketplace. Care Innovations brought a few products from parent companies Intel and GE, including the Guide, which is a chronic disease management platform. When a patient leaves a hospital, he connects to his care provider via this tool, which can take his vital signs and send the information back to his nurse. The Guide promotes regular dialogue between a patient and his care provider, and offers real-time intervention before health degrades to the point of a patient needing to go to the emergency room. Another device, called the Reader, takes photographs of printed text — a book, magazine, brochure, sign and so on — and plays the words back as audio. This helps people who are dyslexic, blind or have other eye-sight defects. At the local event, Todd Murch, president and CEO of Eskaton, talked about the challenge of meeting the health care needs of an aging society. “Ten years ago, a person in my position would not have thought an important partnership would be with a high-technology company,” he said, adding, “It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a positive, disruptive change come about as I believe technology will be.” Care Innovations employee Tracy Counts agrees. On the entry way wall, she posted a photograph of her mom and brother, who suffer from a neurological disease that causes chronic pain. Her mom passed away from the disease. “Having that badness in my life has made me focus on health care and the importance of technology,” Counts said. “There’s got to be something we can do.” Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.