Expanding the Definition of Innovation is Key to Growth in Healthcare
Tuesday, Dec. 01, 2015
In an age characterized by slow growth, volatility and populism, the future of healthcare belongs to the people willing to invest in uncertainty during good times and bad, while moving quickly to improve productivity and outcomes, Jeffrey R. Immelt said during the New Horizons Lecture, "Redefining Innovation."
"No matter where you are around the world of healthcare, if you're looking for things to be stable or if you're looking for things to be certain, you're going to be waiting for a long time," said Immelt, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at General Electric (GE).
Growth in healthcare traditionally came from improved technology in the equipment (which machine had the most slices per CT, which had the widest bore for MR imaging, etc.). That's no longer the case.
"Those are still important, but only by taking those tools, adding the information and analytics, and turning them into new business models can we build a better future," Immelt said.
To that regard, the healthcare industry is still in the beginning stages of where analytics can take it, despite the continued growth happening in recent years.
He grouped the potential for innovation within radiology into three themes: precision medicine; the merger of radiology and pathology; and mobility to be global and local.
Immelt called precision medicine the "holy grail" for the radiology industry because of several factors. Among them is the development of radiogenomics, which allows for spotting a disease earlier, being more predictive around where disease will take place and then marrying that with therapy.
"Over the past decades we truly see this coming into focus," Immelt said.
Looking back over time, Immelt said he's seen the fields of radiology and pathology move closer together. This is particularly true at the institutions pushing for technologies that have common tools.
Mobility remains an important theme, and Immelt said GE strives to meet that need by providing mobile diagnostic tools and devices.
"In this area, you're seeing a lot of technologies being developed," he said. "We're just scratching the surface of the kinds of productivity tools we can bring from a monitoring standpoint and do it all in a mobile setting with clinical value."
The challenge in the industry has been the notion that a radiologist in one setting can develop everything that is necessary to learn about a patient or group of patients and capitalize on the benefits of modern technology.
"The machines are amazing – the power of the CT scanner, the power of an MR," Immelt said. "But the machines are always going to be more powerful than any one clinician can be."
To that end, GE began working on the GE Health Cloud, which was unveiled Sunday at RSNA 2015. It allows radiologists to study and share images or to do new protocols on images without geographic limitations.
"We think this is another advancement that is both clinically important and adds to productivity around the world," Immelt said.
He also said achieving clinical outcomes, improving patient satisfaction, lowering lifecycle cost and driving strategic growth will be key to radiology's future.
"We're going to be working on this the rest of our lives in terms of how to improve healthcare outcomes, costs and quality," he said. "Everyone who is in the healthcare industry today has to learn how to grow and take cost out at the same time. They have to learn how to produce great patient outcomes, and do so productively. And that is never going to go away."