Healthcare 2.0: Solving Today’s Challenges for a Better Tomorrow

Thursday 29 August 2019

Article by Matt Tucker


Australia’s health system is ranked consistently as one of the best in the world, regarded for delivery of quality services and treatment outcomes.  We aren’t alone, however, when it comes to pressures such as increasing capacity required by the demands of a growing aging population with a changing demographic, without increasing the cost burden on the system.

At GE Healthcare we’re addressing these challenges by enabling smarter and more efficient diagnoses, monitoring and treatment.  Last year we introduced the Edison digital platform, which supports applications that take data from various sources and applies analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).Edison-powered devices, such as AIRx, an AI-based, automated workflow tool for MRI brain scanning, and SonoCNS ultrasound, which automates the process of measuring the foetal brain and reducing the amount of manual input from a sonographer, can give doctors better insights more quickly and produce fewer variable results.  

GE Healthcare has also partnered with Vanderbilt University Medical Center to develop multiple diagnostic tools, including AI-powered apps, that help predict how individual patients will respond to cancer immunotherapies in advance of treatment.  This allows doctors to more precisely target immunotherapies to patients and avoid potentially damaging, ineffective and costly courses of treatments.  

While greater use of technology to supplement clinical decision-making is accelerating the drive to improve patient outcomes, it also plays a growing role in improving the efficiency of existing resources and infrastructure. i.e. how do we more efficiently use the hospitals we already have?  

 According to a 2018 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, the median waiting time for elective surgery has risen to 40 days.  Waiting times for emergency department care are also up for the average 22,000 patients turning up to Australia’s public hospital emergency departments every day.  The demand for services puts immense pressure on resources and staff, decreasing time they are able to spend delivering care.

GE is currently working with hospitals around the world to institute mission control-like command centres aimed at boosting capacity, safety and quality, while reducing patient wait times.  In 2016 GE collaborated with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland USA, to develop a state-of-the-art control centre to improve patient flow, patient and staff scheduling.  Since implementation, the difference is remarkable.  In the emergency department, patients are assigned a bed more than 30 percent faster after an admission decision is made. They are also transferred out of the emergency department more than 20 percent faster after they are assigned a bed. Operational efficiency, in what is already considered a world leading institution, has been markedly improved. 

On the path to more personalised healthcare, we are beginning to see the promise of automation and digital enhancements that have transformed other industries.  In healthcare, one of the greatest benefits is in allowing employees more time to focus on the tasks that require a human touch.  We still have a way to go-- currently 90 percent of healthcare data comes from imaging, but just 3 percent of that data gets analysed. Embracing these possibilities now can lead to a brighter future where diseases are understood better, diagnoses are more precise, and treatments are more efficient and effective.





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