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Healthcare IT Emerging as Focus of Industrial Internet Innovation and its Drive for Efficiency

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Jan De Witte, President & CEO, GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions

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De Witte emphasizes the unique platform that software and analytics can provide in enabling more productive workflows and helping to eliminate waste. 

The current models for healthcare provision are being challenged by several trends that will drive a convergence of healthcare and life sciences ecosystems. Inefficiencies in healthcare delivery systems have caused a shift towards healthcare providers competing on cost and quality.

As a result, a framework for healthcare based on ‘value’ associated with outcomes for individual patients is emerging.

Core to this outcomes-based focus is the adoption of healthcare information technology (IT), where sophisticated IT and information-management platforms are designed to integrate a vast and growing body of clinical, operational, research, and financial data.

As this data accumulates, connecting these data sets together in a centralized model should remain a priority for the healthcare and life sciences industries.

“The problems facing healthcare are truly global,” said Jan De Witte, President & CEO, GE Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions.

“Countries face increasing demands from patients as consumers who want better care and are more knowledgeable about the quality of care. You have demand for increased cost productivity and also demand for increasing access and quality. I see these same forces coming together in mature markets and emerging markets.”

In the interview, De Witte outlines three areas in which GE Healthcare is working towards to solve the challenges that fragmentation, waste, and clinical variation create for healthcare providers.

“First, integrated care. What I see today is to start following the patients between primary care to acute care in hospitals, and then beyond hospitals into homecare. We are starting to make the systems interoperable, pulling data out of different silos in order to follow the patient or certain cohorts – high-risk cohorts, chronic disease cohorts, etc. – in order to be more proactive in avoiding preventable acute situations.”

“The second area is operations improvement for hospitals. We have systems that enable the tracking of patients and assets (through RFID tags).

This allows hospitals to know, on a logistics level, how to better steer activities to avoid waste in excess waiting times. Each time a patient needs to wait, each time a nurse needs to look for a pump, each time a bed is not available, this generates costs.”

“Specialty Solutions refers to workflows inside a hospital. Our solutions focus on using data and analytics in the cloud to support high-quality clinical decision-making, improve workflow and make the user interfaces more intuitive – this is a key driver for productivity. We are also integrating data sources with vendor-neutral archiving enabling caregivers to get to relevant information in a more productive way.”

GE Healthcare’s decision to commit $2 billion stems from the opportunity the amount of waste and the low productivity in healthcare present. De Witte emphasizes the unique platform that software and analytics can provide in enabling more productive workflows and helping to eliminate waste.

“In healthcare, I think we are starting to come out of the first inning. Look at how much money has already been spent on digitization in healthcare, with EMRs, departmental digitization and information storage solutions (like PACS), and so on." 

"All this digitization has created a tremendous amount of data. But in many cases, we just have islands of data, and not much has been done with the data to-date. That's why, today, you hear customers and see articles asking the question, what's the return on investment of the EMRs and other technologies?”

“When an industry goes from digitization to connecting and then driving workflows, that's when just throwing IT at the customer doesn't work anymore. You need to really help them implement the changes and new processes that those IT systems are enabling.”

De Witte stressed the importance of the human element in order to achieve these ambitious goals. Here, GE Healthcare’s ‘Industrial Internet’ encompasses this integrated approach in which data and machines are connected to people to achieve those breakthrough levels of efficiency.

“This is part of a broader commitment at GE to step up our software capabilities, not just in healthcare but across all industries. Today, pretty much everything that moves has a built-in chip somewhere that can generate information."

"But there is a lack of capability to use that information to drive smarter asset operations, smarter asset utilization, better workflow productivity, and better quality decisions. Our commitment in healthcare is part of a broader research commitment across GE to significantly expand our software capabilities to bring more value to every GE business.”

Read the full interview with Jan De Witte here.