GE Healthcare’s digital future starts with $500 million investment, hiring 5,000 engineers

GE Healthcare is taking the plunge.

In an attempt to go digital, the company is making a $500 million investment and hiring 5,000 software engineers.

“In 2013, GE committed to investing $500 million in software by 2018,” David Hale, a GE Healthcare senior vice president who oversees imaging software, told MedCity via email.

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Two years later, GE took another step toward its digitization goal by creating GE Digital, Hale said. “As GE transforms itself to become the world’s premier digital industrial company, this will provide GE’s customers with the best industrial solutions and the software needed to solve real-world problems,” GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said at the time.

Last month, GE Healthcare announced plans to relocate hundreds of jobs from its Barrington, Illinois, facility to downtown Chicago, according to a press release sent to MedCity. This movement of employees is also part of GE’s strategy of becoming digital. “Chicago offers an excellent platform for GE Healthcare to work side by side with some of the world’s most respected healthcare institutions, startups, associations and industry thought leaders,” GE Healthcare CEO John Flannery said in a statement.

Now the company is building on its goal by hiring 5,000 software engineers over the next few years, Flannery told Business Insider. He said the new employees will be working primarily on creating an “app store” of sorts for Predix, GE’s cloud-based platform, and on improving hospitals’ IT infrastructures.

GE Healthcare currently has approximately 5,000 software engineers. They constitute 10 percent of all GE Healthcare employees, according to Business Insider.

“We’ll be hiring software engineers, data analysts, imaging analysts, to develop our own apps, but also to develop the platform and the capability of the platform to host hundreds of other applications,” Flannery said.

And it doesn’t end there. By 2020, GE hopes to become a top 10 software company and have “hundreds of apps in the GE Health Cloud,” Hale noted.

But why make the investment now? Hale said GE Healthcare has been collaborating with providers for a number of years to create software that seeks to improve healthcare’s biggest problems related to cost, access and quality. Simultaneously, health systems have received an onslaught of data that’s only expected to continue to increase. “There is no greater opportunity to solve for those challenges than through digital — imaging solutions, value-based care analytics, cloud technology and deep learning,” Hale said.

GE Healthcare hopes this digital movement will eventually assist in solving healthcare’s challenges throughout the world. “We aim to transform healthcare with digital, merging clinical science with minds and machines for higher quality and more efficient, more affordable care,” Hale said.

Photo: MixAll Studio, Getty Images

Here’s what C-suite leaders plan to focus on under the Trump administration

President Donald Trump, his administration and a Republican Congress have big plans for changing healthcare. For now, the future of the American healthcare system is up in the air. But healthcare leaders across the country have already started to make initial plans.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Premier Inc. decided to find out what is top of mind for C-suite leaders now that the new administration has taken the helm. The company conducted an online survey of 63 healthcare C-suite leaders, including CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, COOs, CIOs and CTIOs, between January 3 and February 6.

The results found leaders zeroed in on five primary areas on which they will focus under the Trump administration, according to a press release from Premier. In priority order, they are:

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1. Controlling costs and focusing on drug spending

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents said they will increase their focus on ways of managing the cost of care. Another 61 percent said they plan to concentrate on managing rising drug costs and pharmaceutical spending, which aligns with President Trump’s claims that he wants to decrease drug prices.

2. Heading from meaningful use to meaningful insight

Rather than a sole focus on putting data in EHR systems, respondents indicated they plan to focus on analytic capabilities. Half of the respondents said they will work to increase interoperability, and 53 percent plan to improve data integration and invest in analytics.

3. Consumer engagement

Even with the transition to a new administration, healthcare leaders are increasingly looking for ways to both engage and satisfy consumers. As such, 56 percent of respondents said they want to use telehealth to improve patients’ access to physicians. Another 45 percent plan to build on their organization’s patient engagement initiatives.

4. Movement toward population health efforts

Respondents indicated their interest in the value-based care initiatives lauded by the Obama administration. Of the leaders surveyed, 40 percent said they plan to expand the healthcare team to include nurse practitioners, care coordinators and others. Another 45 percent indicated they will increase their use of post-acute care services.

5. Ongoing focus on clinical quality

Though it’s becoming a standard for healthcare leaders, respondents indicated they will continue to concentrate on quality reporting. While 46 percent of respondents said their organization will increase the use of quality reporting systems such as the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, 2 percent of respondents said they plan to decrease their investment in such systems.

The results of the survey hint at a future that will revolve around lowered costs and improved quality, according to Premier COO Mike Alkire. “These findings highlight how providers are taking the long view — not just focusing on the here and now, but ultimately on what will be most beneficial to patients and sustain the viability of our nation’s hospitals,” he said in an email to MedCity.

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images