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Innovation and Commercial Success Go Hand in Hand


Bettina Fitt, GE Healthcare’s General Manager for the UK and Ireland.

“Innovation and commercial success go hand in hand” said Bettina Fitt, GE Healthcare’s General Manager for the UK and Ireland, speaking at a Parliamentary event organized by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) to give the UK Government more insight into the importance of linking innovation to commercial success.  

Bettina,who is also Chair of AXrEM, the UK trade association representing the interests of suppliers of diagnostic medical imaging, radiotherapy and care equipment, took part in a panel discussion involving former Innovation Minister Lord Drayson, Stephen Whitehead from ABPI and David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, in the wake of  the UK Government’s recent Innovation Strategy and Strategy for UK Life Sciences, and the National Health Service Chief Executive’s Innovation, Health and Wealth report.

“From a GE perspective,” she explained, “the link between innovation and commercial success is integral to our business philosophy. In particular, our ‘healthymagination’ strategy, which is all about providing better, more accessible healthcare for more people at lower cost, has enabled us to partner with governments and customers alike by innovating technologies that bridge clinical gaps and ensure that patient outcomes are improved.”


The healthymagination business growth strategy was built on GE’s successful ‘ecomagination’ strategy – GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. It draws on capabilities from across GE, including GE Healthcare, GE Capital, GE Water, NBC Universal, the GE Global Research Center as well as the GE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of GE.

Bettina explained: “The principles of healthymagination mirror many of the priorities of the NHS around providing better healthcare. We have set ourselves some stiff targets to facilitate innovation around reducing costs and increasing the quality of and access to healthcare.  In particular we will more than double our research and development spending on healthymagination products, totaling $3 billion by 2015. This means at least half of GE Healthcare’s spending will be on innovations that reduce by 15 percent the cost of healthcare procedures and processes, increase by 15 percent people’s access to services and technologies essential for health, and improve quality and efficiency by 15 percent for customers through simplifying and refining health care procedures and standards of care.”

In addition to the $3 billion spend by GE Healthcare, GE Capital will provide $2 billion in financing for advancing healthcare IT, and several GE businesses will spend $1 billion for partnerships, media content and services related to healthymagination.

Our commitment is to provide better healthcare for more people around the world through innovations that lower the cost, increase the access, and improve the quality of healthcare.  GE works with Oxford Analytica, an independent, Oxford-based international research and consultancy firm, to review products, services and solutions to determine if they meet healthymagination standards.  From a customer perspective, the power of the healthymagination validation is in the proof provided through the rigorous analysis by Oxford Analytica. To date, Oxford Analytica has validated 53 GE innovations, more than half way to our goal of 100+ by 2015.

Ultimately explained Bettina, the idea is that innovations should benefit everyone: “Tragically more than two billion people around the world do not have access to basic elements of a healthy life.  To address this, GE has created a suite of maternal and cardiac care products for rural and developing markets. We are also working hard to address issues such as chronic disease and caring for the ageing population with initiatives such as our partnership with Intel to provide remote monitoring of elderly patients with chronic disease.”

GE Healthcare is also working closely with other parts of GE to deliver innovative solutions in the healthcare space.  This includes an initiative with NBC Universal and NBC News to bring timely, actionable health and wellness content to consumers in the form of more than 5,000 televised reports annually and companion online tools.  In October 2011 GE announced that MSNBC would launch a new, daily programme dedicated solely to health information, beginning in June this year to tackle everything from health and wellness tips and medical breakthroughs to in-depth looks at health policy. 

 “It’s important to us that we evaluate and benchmark the effectiveness of our efforts to deliver our healthymagination strategy” Bettina said.  “To this end we have established a Health Advisory Board, which includes membership by former U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Tom Daschle and other healthcare experts such as Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, chairman of Narayana Hrudalaya, a cardiac care hospital in Bangalore, India and Lord Ara Darzi, former Health Minister in UK. The board advises us on our health efforts, investments and policy, and participates in regular public reporting on our performance."

Innovating for the National Health Service

GE is working closely with the NHS to support its main priority of improving patient outcomes and clinical effectiveness. Bettina concluded: “Innovations in therapeutic medicine and the way that these are delivered are playing an essential role in enabling the NHS to deliver better patient care in a climate of ever tightening budgets. It is vital therefore that policymakers create an environment that enables the public and private sectors to work together effectively to extend resources, improve efficiencies and care outcomes. In this way both parties can benefit from commercial success and we will have a win/win situation."