“Innovation, digitization and molecular medicine” are three key paving stones in the path to meeting the healthcare challenges of today and the future, according to John Dineen, CEO GE Healthcare.
John told a packed audience at the London Business School’s Global Healthcare Conference in London that innovation and digitization can together help combat the world’s “perfect healthcare storm” of aging population, rising chronic disease, escalating obesity and spiraling costs.
“We have the tools and we have the ideas” John said in the event’s keynote presentation.
“By innovation we’re not only talking about developing state of the art products, we’re talking about innovating to drive costs down. Our handheld ultrasound unit offers an example. ‘Vscan’ provides real time images of bloodflow based on ultrasound technology and it fits into a physician’s pocket. The Vscan is one tenth or one twentieth the cost of a very high end unit. It uses our software capabilities from the highest end products but houses them in a still pretty powerful but cost effective package. I guess it’s a similar concept to what Apple has done with the iPhone – they’ve taken a lot of the powerful software capability of their operating system and pushed it into an iPad or an iPhone for those customers who maybe don’t need the full blown original.
“We’re innovating solutions like this for the professionals that need them – for whom they offer better clinical and economic value.
“Digitization is the other element. An example of something we’re working on with Intermountain called Qualibria that tackles variability in healthcare, which we think has a big impact on cost and quality. So, two patients with the same problem in the same hospital might be treated differently. Now that can be fine but it needs to be a conscious variance, not an unconscious one. We have the opportunity for healthcare IT to remove some of the unconscious variability in diagnosis and treatment processes, and there are a lot of cost savings to be made there. Interoperable electronic medical records that communicate with each other – effectively – are another area we are working in. Yes, it saves money but it can also speed up the ‘system’ for the patient.
“And that’s what it’s all about. What patients need. That’s the same route we’re taking with molecular diagnostics. Healthcare is taking big steps towards ‘personalized’ molecular therapies. We’re working on sophisticated diagnostic tools that help determine at a molecular level which treatment is appropriate for a particular patient and whether they are responding to it. Diagnostics and treatment are being linked more closely than ever before. We recently acquired a company called Clarient who we consider are brilliant in this field. With them we’re waging a war on cancer.”
“Personalized medicine informs all that Clarient does,” said Pascale Witz, President and CEO of Medical Diagnostics, GE Healthcare, who spoke in the event’s panel discussion on Personalized Medicine. “Clarient offers a cutting edge menu of nearly 500 tests to its pathology customers. These tests allow pathologists and their oncologist clients to better serve patients by precisely diagnosing and stratifying disease subtypes for optimal therapy.”