5 Questions for Craig Barrett, Intel’s Chairman

By Jeremy Smerd

Jan. 19, 2007

Intel chairman Craig Barrett is the public face of his company’s effort to reduce health care costs—not just for the microprocessor manufacturer but throughout the health system. On December 6, Barrett announced the formation of Dossia, an employer-sponsored group aimed at creating a system of personal, portable electronic health records for member companies’ employees. Intel launched Dossia as a nonprofit organization founded with four other large employers—Wal-Mart, BP America, Pitney Bowes and Applied Materials—in order to give employees a way to manage their health care in a manner that would promote greater efficiency, lower costs and improved health. Though many details have not been worked out, the health records would be owned by employees regardless of whether they stay with the member companies. Barrett recently spoke with Workforce Management staff writer Jeremy Smerd.

Workforce Management: Why did Intel take the lead to get employers involved in creating personal health records?

Craig Barrett: Somebody had to! [Barrett laughs.] There are a number of industry organizations that have been focusing on this. The high-tech industry has looked at [rising] health care costs as a competitive issue. We bounced the idea around about doing something but somebody had to take the lead, so we picked up the project and ran with it.

WM: Have you been working on Dossia since you launched the digital health group last year?

Barrett: The thought came to us before that, while looking at health care costs. But the formation of the digital health group [launched in 2005 as part of an Intel reorganization] gave us some increased impetus. So it’s being managed out of that group but it’s really more of a corporate effort rather than a digital health group and Intel effort.

WM: Are you looking at any possible business opportunities to come out of this?

Barrett: We’re not looking for any business opportunities for Intel, per se, to come out of this. The business opportunities that the digital health group has are all involved in using IT in health care, providing either standard products to the health care industry or providing remote diagnostic-type capability. Those are not specifically related to Dossia. The point I’m trying to make is there is not a direct business relation between the digital health group and anything we’re trying to do with this program. It is a corporate effort driven to try to control health care costs on the one hand and to provide a benefit to employees on the other hand.

WM: How much has Intel spent on Dossia?

Barrett: Well, each one of the founding companies is committed to put in over a million bucks into the initial formulation of Dossia—the plumbing, the infrastructure—to make it happen. That’s just to get the program going. And the expectation is that once it’s going it will be supported by subscription basis, where companies will pay a nominal fee per employee to subscribe.

WM: How are you going to get your employees to use the personal health records?

Barrett: Well, we will put a sales program on fully explaining the program to them. But I think most employees recognize the benefit of having an electronic health record for themselves and their family members. I’m sure that every time you go to the doctor you recognize the benefit of having that health record, and all employees are in that same boat.

Jeremy Smerd writes for Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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