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GE Healthcare’s Vision for “Industrial Internet” will Fundamentally Change Healthcare Policy Making


Mitch Higashi, Chief Economist at GE Healthcare, speaking at the Technology Frontiers conference today

The future of major healthcare policy decisions will be made more efficient and effective by using sophisticated computational models based on advanced analytics that integrate demographic, economic and epidemiological data. GE’s vision for the Industrial Internet will allow healthcare providers to compare and interpret scenarios based on this data therefore making their decision making process more effective and efficient.

That was the view of Mitch Higashi, Chief Economist at GE Healthcare, who was speaking at The Economist’s second annual 'Technology Frontiers' conference in London today.

Higashi was one of a number of eminent speakers invited to the two-day conference, which provides a platform for business leaders to discuss how technological innovation is having a meaningful impact on the global economy, business, individuals, and society.

In his session, Higashi discussed how healthcare policymakers are increasingly turning toward sophisticated IT and information-management platforms that use advanced analytics to cope with the enormous amounts of data, when assessing critical healthcare needs. These platforms will bring together the advanced analytics, predictive algorithms and powerful software applications required to design more efficient operations.

Higashi acknowledged that the current process of allocating resources for healthcare is extremely complex. Access to data and the ability to compare and interpret scenarios enabled by this data is critical to ensure informed resource allocation and improve population health.

For example, a number of stakeholders may find it difficult to access and engage data when deciding on infrastructure investments (e.g. where to build a hospital, how many beds are required, what equipment is needed and how it should be configured). Current simulation software does not take the user experience into account and therefore it becomes difficult for healthcare decision-makers to demonstrate how a budget request will translate into long-term health and economic benefits for the country. Specifically, a country’s Ministry of Health requires more support in making its budget requests to the Ministry of Finance.

Higashi pointed to GE’s vision for the Industrial Internet in which the changing landscape of healthcare innovation is inspiring GE Healthcare to design solutions that tackle these critical population health challenges and economic issues. Healthcare is a prime sector for Industrial Internet adoption due to the strong imperatives to reduce costs and improve performance; and the range of applications in global healthcare is as large as the potential to enable safe, efficient operations and improve productivity. GE estimates that a 1% reduction in system inefficiencies globally could lead to $63 billion in savings over fifteen years.* This vision would connect physicians, health facilities and machines to drive higher quality service and improve productivity.

GE Healthcare Introduces Corvix

GE Healthcare’s Corvix is a new data simulation tool that consolidates, visualizes, and compares data to generate insights on public health and economic outcomes. It achieves this through an intuitive interface that enables scenario-based modelling that provides the critical information for easy decision making. The model is an “agent based” model which means it is able to respond to multiple variables, adapts to customer-driven inputs, change, and allows for instant simulations and feedback. Corvix will assist public and private healthcare decision-makers to identify the resources that can maximize the positive economic and health results for the populations they serve ultimately reducing overall costs in the process.

Corvix in India

Corvix has already been used to successfully replicate a virtual state that uses population demographics and dynamics of Andhra Pradesh, a region of India. The country is an example of a rapidly growing emerging market with substantial public/private healthcare development along with ’Big Data’ resources. GE Healthcare partnered with the Public Health Foundation of India on a project to develop a staffing and economic model studying Allied Health Workforce shortages and solutions.

Several data sources including two Indian Government censuses and a socio-economic survey were integrated. By analyzing and integrating this data Corvix is able to simulate the expansion of India’s healthcare infrastructure, initially limited to cardiovascular disease (CVD) diagnosis and treatment, within a region. Cardiovascular disease is an increasing health issue in India and a priority for the Indian Ministry of Health – with 2.58 million Indians predicted to die from the disease each year by 2020.**

Corvix was able to provide a visual of the hotspots detailing the highest concentration of disease, which could then be overlapped over the existing or potential future healthcare infrastructure. Such visualizations allow healthcare scenarios over time to be compared, allowing for optimal future planning. In the future there are plans to evaluate expanding the tool to cover other disease areas and adapt for use in other markets outside India.

Higashi concluded his session by commenting that GE’s vision for the Industrial Internet and, specifically, tools such as Corvix need not be restricted to the healthcare sector. The Industrial Internet will push the boundaries for intelligent machines, advanced analytics and people at work that will transform not only the way health policy decisions are made but the way we live and work.

* –  Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines. Peter C. Evans and Marco Annunziata 
** – Gaffar et al, BMJ 2004, 328:807-10



Using Big Data to solve big problems


Corvix's user interface