Health care innovations out of Silicon Valley

August 4, 2009 8:00:16 PM PDT
While Washington wrestles with rising health care costs, Silicon Valley biomedical companies are innovating new cost-saving products.

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It looks like an oversized bandage, but inside a 2-ounce device is technology its inventors hope will cut health care costs.

The device is called Piix and is made by San Jose's Corventis. It attaches to a patient's chest to record a wide range of data, such as an electro cardiogram, respiration rate and heart rate.

"We hope to fully materialize the potential of this technology in being able to reduce the hospitalization of these patients," Corventis Vice President Badri Amurthur said.

The goal is to allow a physician to monitor a heart patient around the clock at home, hoping to catch early danger signs. It is part of a growing trend in health care technology to use off-the-shelf technology and chips to address a push to contain costs.

"They're able to look at this data and this actionable diagnostic information and intervene early through perhaps the prescription of a pill over the phone to change the course of the worsening trajectory for these patients," Amurthur said.

Also on the horizon are pills that will have a digestible chip attached to them to confirm a patient has taken them and at the correct dosage. Proteus, a Redwood City biomedical company, is already experimenting with them.

Santa Clara's Intel has a lab outside Portland testing what it calls a "magic carpet" to track how people walk. The goal is to diagnose what leads to people falling.

"If we don't move health care to the home in America, we're not going to be able to help include the 47 million uninsured into the health care system; we can't send everyone to a hospital or an expensive clinic for every health care encounter," Intel Digital Health Group spokesperson Eric Dishman said.

These technologies will be useful not only in the U.S. but also around the world, especially in places like India and China with exploding populations and where hospital costs are also rapidly rising.

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