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GE Healthcare Donates to Vatican Foundation Ten Vscan™ Ultrasound Pocket-Sized Visualization Tool

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In Rome, Reinaldo Garcia, President & CEO of GE Healthcare – Europe, Middle East and Africa, personally presented a Vscan unit to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

GE Healthcare today announced a donation to the Vatican foundation “The Good Samaritan”, created by Pope John Paul II and entrusted to Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, of ten Vscans, its latest ultrasound pocket-sized visualization tool. The ten Vscans will be destined for deployment in ten hospitals operating in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been afflicted by war and insecurity since 1996. On this occasion, Reinaldo Garcia, President & CEO of GE Healthcare – Europe, Middle East and Africa, was honored to attend an audience in Rome during which he personally presented a Vscan unit to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

GE Healthcare developed Vscan to help increase access to healthcare and to provide trained clinicians with imaging capabilities at the point-of-care in rural and urban areas.

During his visit to Rome, Reinaldo Garcia also spoke today at the XXV International Conference – Toward an Equitable and Human Health Care in the Light of the Encycliad Caritas in Veritate (New Synod Hall, Vatican City), where he addressed the topic: Ethics and Access to Healthcare Technologies.

As Reinaldo Garcia explained in opening his speech, he had a small but significant addition to the title. “In recognition of how the field of medical and other technology has rapidly advanced, and because the healthcare challenges faced by countries around the world differ, I believe it is more relevant for us to consider: “Ethics and Access to Appropriate Healthcare Technology,” he said.

Garcia discussed GE’s healthymagination programme which aims to deliver technologies and solutions that improve the quality, access and cost of health in all parts of the world. Examples of GE using the consumer electronics boom to miniaturize and adapt technology that once could only be found at large hospitals, and take it into clinics and rural locations remote from mainstream medical facilities, include the MAC 400 Electrocardiogram device and the Venue 40 tablet sized portable ultrasound scanner. These devices are battery powered, portable, self contained, and simple for health care providers to use.

Garcia also remarked on the excitement generated by being able to hold in your hand an ultrasound device such as the Vscan, a pocket sized visualization tool, no bigger than a compact mobile phone, that uses sound waves to render highly specific and sensitive images of the body. Imaging technologies like the Vscan have the potential to become widely used throughout the world.

Ultimately, GE Healthcare’s vision is for Vscan to be as ubiquitous as a stethoscope and to achieve that it must have a truly global reach. The goal is to reach a point where the purchase, training and upkeep costs can be recovered by a sustainable pricing model in even the lowest income countries of the world.

These technologies take healthcare to the patient rather than the patient to the healthcare provider. But also: “they were developed and manufactured in the markets for which they are designed”, added Reinaldo.

GE’s traditional “globalization” business model, where products were developed in home markets like the USA and Europe, then adapted for sale elsewhere has now moved to the Company’s “in country for country” approach to new technology development.

In short, GE teams with deep local knowledge and unprecedented autonomy in Latin America, India, and South East Asia, and a dozen other countries now manage the development and production of new products to meet local needs.

Because these new products do not compromise on quality, some are finding uses in developed markets. “This has become known as reverse innovation”, Garcia explained.

GE’s healthymagination commitment applies to the poorest and richest countries alike: to those places with underserved healthcare systems where technology can improve access and patient outcomes; and to places where technology is regarded as a driver of healthcare costs and it needs become driver of efficiencies and improvements in delivery.

“The transformation of healthcare is no doubt one of the toughest challenges we will face this century. But I’m optimistic that by using innovative technology it’s a challenge we’ll overcome”, Reinaldo Garcia concluded.