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Digital Hospital Has Extra Brains For Your Doctor

By GE Reports April 16, 2013

In a post from GE Reports, a study of how Industrial Internet applications could help drive global healthcare costs down.

Healthcare systems around the world are facing a number of big issues. High costs may be the most visible, but quality and access to care are also looming large. A recent survey commissioned by GE Healthcare found that American hospitals “may not be prepared to tackle the serious capacity and patient flow challenges ahead.” Another study that polled American, British, and Chinese nurses about patient safety revealed that many of them have “witnessed errors and few call their own hospitals safe.”

What is to be done? One answer is data. Today there are handy tools available that can tap the power of networks, software and data analytics, provide information to clinicians to allow for more informed decisions and start wringing waste from the system. A recent GE report on the Industrial Internet, a digital network connecting people, machines, and data, estimated that the network could help drive global healthcare costs down by about 25 percent, or about $100 billion per year in savings. “Today data exists in various settings, from our equipment or from our electronic medical records,” says Evren Eryurek, chief technology officer at GE HealthcareIT and GE Healthcare’s software leader. “Can you imagine that all of the information goes through the Industrial Internet to a platform that helps doctors make more informed decisions?”

Credit: GE Reports

Industrial Internet applications could help drive global healthcare costs down by about 25 percent, or about $100 billion per year in savings.

Here’s an example. Caradigm, a joint venture between GE Healthcare and Microsoft, is building digital tools that will provide hospitals with near real-time view of their emergency room and bed management. One of them, called Guided Analytics, helps track patient treatment and outcome, eliminate unnecessary repeated tests, and through better care helps prevent patients from returning to the ER. A solution called AutoBed will help manage patient flow and help doctors discharge patients on time and free up beds, equipment, and other assets. A similar GE system, called AgileTrac, is already monitoring thousands of devices and patients at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital. Wayne Keathley, president of Mt. Sinai, told the New York Times that the advantage of technologies like AgileTrac was “to be able to see the daily flow of patients, physical assets and treatment as it unfolds.”

GE software engineers have also unveiled Centricity Clinical Archive, a digital “vendor-neutral archive” (VNA) that will allow doctors and hospitals to unify patient images and documents generated by multiple different systems, departments, specialists and locations. For example, the Southwestern Ontario Digital Imaging Network (SWODIN) manages 3.2 million exams every year for 62 hospitals linked across seven different vendors’ picture archiving and communications systems (PACS). “This is a network where you can capture data from CT, MR, or pathology in one area that is on site or hosted in the cloud,” Eryurek says.

Eryurek’s team is also trying to centralize patient review and diagnostics in a database. “A doctor who is just starting his shift can review the information with fresh mind and fresh eyes,” he says. This can provide information to support better medical decisions and, ultimately, better care.

“Everybody is trying to provide more access to their patients and their facilities, whether it’s medical images, diagnostics or access to care,” Eryurek says. “Access, quality and cost, these are the common denominators whether you are in India or the United States.”

This post originally appeared at GE Reports.