Subscription News delivered straight to your inbox.


GE Healthcare Provides an Answer to Amazon

Laura Scholes

When the pandemic hit, everything went virtual seemingly overnight. And in healthcare, this seismic shift amplified the already-in-motion trend to digitize everything having to do with medicine, from getting your doctor to check that weird mole via video to receiving near-instantaneous results on an MRI.

Here’s why: Consumers are now more involved in their health decisions than ever before, whether it’s doing research on Google about that mole or exploring clinical trials for cancer. That’s because consumers are now more on the hook for healthcare costs, a shift from when insurance companies took on most—if not all—of the risk.

And now Amazon, the corporate behemoth dominating virtually every sector, is entering the healthcare space with Amazon Care. Their consumer-centric service includes virtual medical visits (24/7/365) and even—get this—in-person care delivered right in the patient’s home.

While Amazon Care was originally created as a benefit for their own employees, Amazon is now semi-quietly rolling out the service to employers outside their ecosystem. Long-term industry players may be reeling from the jolt of this move, but it’s as clear a signal as any: there’s no time to waste if they want to stay ahead of the Amazon wave.

Healthcare manufacturers, in particular, know they need to respond by creating products and services that are as digitally savvy as the devices consumers carry in their pockets. And because healthcare providers that buy these machines face ever-growing margin pressures, they’re increasingly looking for digital solutions that give them increased efficiency, better outcomes, and reduced costs.

In plain English? The future isn’t just about making machines and selling them to big healthcare orgs to replace their current machines. It’s about the equipment-as-a-service-ification of healthcare from top to bottom.

Leading the pack

The pack leader in the quest to digitize medicine is the global powerhouse GE Healthcare. Long known for its medical imaging equipment and diagnostic imaging agents—it has more than 500,000 devices all over the world—GE Healthcare has been expanding its digital transformation mightily over the last several years.

In fact, they’ve been so successful, GE Healthcare is considered to be the crown jewel of the GE portfolio. And according to Mitch Jackson, GE Healthcare Digital’s vice president of cloud strategy and technology, they’re working harder than ever to amp up customer value and data by increasingly leveraging the cloud for more robust storage and easier access.

The “easier access” part is critical. Because the faster clinicians can access images and data, the better it is for their patients. And in an ultra-competitive industry like healthcare, this advantage can be a gamechanger. Survey data shows that lack of access to images and data is one reason up to 35 percent of cases are misdiagnosed. And on the bottom line side of things, it’s estimated that better integration between systems could save healthcare organizations $30 billion a year.

Expanding their digital footprint

The GE Healthcare business unit was founded in 1994, but their roots in healthcare and medicine go back more than 100 years. Today, their stated mission is to work toward “precision health, digitizing healthcare, helping drive productivity and improve outcomes for patients, providers, health systems and researchers around the world.”

The division is estimated to be worth around $60 billion and generates much of the company’s free cash flow. Connectivity is the cornerstone of GE Healthcare’s digitization strategy, and their recent moves, like the launch of the GE Health Cloud, back this up. GE Health Cloud provides radiologists and other healthcare professionals with a single portal to access enterprise imaging applications to view, process, and easily share images and patient cases. More GE Health Cloud offerings, both services and applications, are in the pipeline, ranging from device protocol management to care pathway analytics.

“Every day, healthcare data flows through millions of medical devices,” says Mitch Jackson, vice president of cloud strategy and technology for GE Healthcare Digital. “The role of the cloud in healthcare will steadily increase across a variety of market segments, and many of our customers have already begun this transition. [With the cloud], we can create more value for customers by liberating data and applying machine learning to create smarter devices, new products, and entry into new markets.”

By helping its customers connect devices, GE Healthcare may also better support its mission of helping healthcare delivery organizations improve operational productivity and patient outcomes. “Securely connecting systems and devices to the cloud was the best way to enable outreach and ultimately new insights into data from the scalability, flexibility, and lower cost of ownership it provides,” Jackson says. “Advancing medical outcomes requires processing large amounts of healthcare data with governed access to that data for research as well as clinical application. We believe the role of the cloud is pivotal to actualizing this vision.”

Enter Artificial Intelligence

GE Healthcare is also venturing boldly into the artificial intelligence (AI) space with their new Edison Marketplace, an AI software platform and online store that lets customers find, try and buy software from a range of third-party providers for their GE equipment. Some of the AI apps now available help doctors glean insights into clinical data and improve outcomes.

For example, radiologists can find applications that help them identify breast cancer or prioritize cases with possible collapsed lungs. “This is a big deal for the healthcare industry,” says Ken Denison, vice president of digital platform and product marketing at GE Healthcare. “It’s rare to have the option to quickly find things, try them and decide to buy them or not.”

Denison, a 25-year veteran of GE Healthcare, compares Edison Marketplace to the online stores that helped change the music business. “Now we purchase music in a completely different way — and we’re bringing a similar model to healthcare,” he says.

Edison Marketplace uses a subscription model, which reduces the risk that clinics will be stuck with an app they no longer use or need. Using a marketplace with subscription-based AI may also give hospitals tighter control over their future spending. “You could just drop the subscription when it’s no longer useful or if something better comes along,” Denison says.

Another new digital entrant in the GE Healthcare pantheon is Edison HealthLink, a new edge computing technology designed to help clinicians more easily collect, analyze and act upon critical data closer to its source. Edison HealthLink runs the Edison Health Services software stack – offering services including HIPAA-compliant data aggregation, advanced visualization, and connectivity.

With Edison HealthLink, health systems are able to receive advanced software updates without requiring new equipment. “COVID-19 has accelerated industry-wide trends with implications for the future of care delivery. It’s time to apply these trends and use them to modernize the current health system infrastructure,” says GE Healthcare chief digital officer Amit Phadnis. “As more care delivery becomes virtual and as more healthcare data moves to the cloud, technologies like Edison HealthLink provide a bridge, allowing devices to operate on-premise, at the edge and in the cloud.”

More recently, GE Healthcare unveiled several AI-powered solutions to their roster. In March, 2021, they released Venue Fit, a point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) system designed for compact spaces, which utilizes a new AI tool focused on cardiac imaging. And in May, 2021, they unveiled Xeleris V, a new AI-powered virtual nuclear medicine solution that unleashes clinicians from their traditional workstations and gives them secure access to data from anywhere.

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, one thing is clear: the digitization of healthcare is only going to continue. The economics of the old product-based economy which thrived on planned obsolescence is making way for the new Subscription Economy, which thrives delivering outcomes as a service. It’s not just a question about the longevity of the products, it’s increasingly becoming a question about the longevity of manufacturing as we know it.

Fresh subscription stories delivered to your inbox, weekly.

Subscribe to Subscribed
By using the website, you agree to the use of cookies. Head to our cookie policy to learn more about cookies and manage cookies on this website.