A hundred days ago, Intel CEO Bob Swan announced Intel’s pandemic response technology initiative, which included an investment of $50 million to combat COVID-19, particularly through better diagnosis.
Rick Echevarria, an Intel sales and marketing vice president and general manager of the Intel Olympic Program at Intel, led the initiative. He said in a blog post 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. The company 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 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, he said. 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 of that, Providence saw telehealth visits grow from 50 a day to about 14,000. Since then, the health care provider has been providing “care-at-a-distance” — from monitoring intensive care units remotely to decrease the risk of infecting vulnerable patients to enabling “hospitals at home” that monitor those with potential 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 that educators hope will inspire students, increase engagement, and shape future community-based careers for young people, Echevarria said.
In Houston, Intel joined an effort with partners, including T-Mobile and Microsoft, that spans education, health care, and smart and resilient city technology — all 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 are needed more than ever
Intel said the groups worked creatively to pull together solutions that are saving lives, educating students, and shoring up community infrastructure.
Data collaboration and sharing have never been more important. Solving the global challenges of the coronavirus requires researchers to work together. The whole world has become a peer community, all sharing the same data, Echevarria said.
Better health will go hand in hand with recovering economies
People’s health will be critical to the world’s economic recovery, just as the economic recovery will be key to everyone’s health, he said. Absorbing the lessons of telehealth is critical, Echevarria said. He noted that Intel has learned to operate with more empathy, agility, and velocity during the past few months in an altered world, lessons that are worth remembering.
Life will be different for everyone after the coronavirus, 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 will enable cures for many more diseases.