Intel has worked with 100 groups on their pandemic response and invested $30 million in the past 100 days, the company announced today. A hundred days ago, Intel CEO Bob Swan announced the company’s pandemic response technology initiative, which included an investment of $50 million to combat COVID-19 through better diagnosis and other efforts. Rick Echevarria, a sales and marketing VP and general manager of the Intel Olympic Program, led the initiative. He said in a blog post today that the chipmaker has partnered with groups on everything from the original pandemic response to early steps toward recovery.
Early on, Intel provided ventilator manufacturers with vital parts and assisted with the creation of virtual intensive care units. Today, the company is providing technology and educational content for students who might otherwise be left behind. Intel is also aiding businesses as they take the first steps toward reopening safely and exploring ways its technology and financial support can be used in the search for medical diagnoses, treatments, and vaccines.
Tech can save lives
Technology used to its potential can change — and even save — lives, Echevarria said. One example is telehealth for those who can’t visit a doctor. With the support of regulations and laws, telehealth has put doctors in contact with patients even as offices have closed. While health care firm Providence treated some of the first U.S. patients with COVID-19 at its hospitals, within a week the company’s 7,000 primary care physicians were operating telehealth technology. Within days, Providence saw telehealth visits grow from 50 a day to about 14,000.
Since then, the health care provider has been offering “care-at-a-distance” — from monitoring intensive care units remotely to enabling “hospitals at home” that monitor for high-risk complications.
In partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District and ViacomCBS, Intel is also bringing together technologists, educators, and entertainers to create new content for the “What I do for a Living” curriculum. This is an incentive-based program educators hope will increase engagement for young people and shape future community-based careers.
In Houston, Intel joined an effort with partners such as T-Mobile and Microsoft that spans education, health care, and smart and resilient city technology — with the goal of building a tech and innovation community focused on equity and digital literacy.
Since 2019, Intel and the city of Houston have delivered smart city solutions through the Ion Smart and Resilient Cities Accelerator. Water Lens, one of the accelerator’s startups, offers genetic water testing technology. Water Lens has secured a City of Houston pilot program to rapidly test for COVID-19 in wastewater, which could help determine the community’s true infection rate.
Creative uses of technology and better health
Intel said teams had to work creatively to pull together solutions that are now saving lives, educating students, and shoring up community infrastructure. Solving the global challenges of the coronavirus will require researchers around the world to work together, making data collaboration and sharing more important than ever before. In the wake of the pandemic, the world has become a peer community, all sharing the same data, Echevarria said.
He said people’s health will be critical to the world’s economic recovery, just as economic recovery will be essential to everyone’s health. The lessons of telehealth will prove valuable, he added, noting that Intel has learned to operate with more empathy, agility, and velocity during the past few months.
Even after the first wave of the pandemic passes, life will be different on many fronts, Echevarria said. Doctors and patients will communicate from a greater distance. Educators will find lessons in distance learning to make online classes more effective and meaningful. And the private, safe, and efficient sharing of data could enable cures for many more diseases.