Q&A: GE's Wanchoo outlines integration with IDX
Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE Healthcare's Integrated IT Solutions business, sat down with Health Imaging & IT to discuss the recent acquisition of IDX and how the two companies are integrating personnel, visions, and products for the road ahead. He forecasts the combined entity will reach sales of $1.9 billion in 2006. In addition to addressing how these big changes are expected to benefit customers, Wanchoo also detailed some of the surprises they had in store for HIMSS 2006 attendees this week.

Can you detail GE's new product portfolio, and which crossover products between GE and IDX will remain?

All products will be under the Centricity umbrella, and we're bringing together complementary products from both companies. Our product line will be structured the following way:

GE Centricity Enterprise comprises the former IDX Carecast product and is a fully integrated clinical, financial and administrative system. It combines core clinical processes for orders, results, pharmacy and clinical documentation with administrative and financial processes for scheduling, registration, admitting, charging and billing.

The system automates workflow throughout the healthcare enterprise and enables rapid access to patient records across the care continuum, from admission to discharge, including inpatient and ambulatory care. The result is a comprehensive lifetime patient record that enhances the quality of care and promotes operational efficiencies.

GE Centricity also will enable clinicians to readily access images and information from our departmental systems from within each patient's electronic medical record.

We're announcing this week that Intermountain Healthcare is now a strategic development partner for Centricity Enterprise and will be bringing their expertise in clinical based protocols to help build state-of-the-art decision support functionality for the electronic medical record.

GE Centricity also will provide an electronic medical record/practice management option for independent physician practices of all sizes. We will offer the GE ambulatory electronic medical record in combination with practice management solutions for large, medium and small group practices. We’ll be offering the former IDX Flowcast and Groupcast offerings for large and medium practices, and the GE Practice Management solution for small practices.
We will also offer Centricity Patient Online (the former IDX Patient Online), a web-based patient portal, to both the group practice and inpatient electronic medical record market; as well as Referring Practice Online, a referring physician portal that will be used in inpatient and ambulatory settings.
GE will continue to market and sell our well-established suite of Centricity departmental systems, including Pharmacy, Lab, Perioperative and Perinatal. We'll also use the intellectual property from the GE Critical Care system to develop native critical care capabilities within GE Centricity.
GE Centricity Imaging is an integrated solution that enables clinicians to view all radiology and cardiology diagnostic images and reports, as well as access ECG waveforms. This solution brings together GE Centricity PACS with IDX's highly rated Radiology Information System.
We're still determining our approach for information system requirements for cardiology.

What will be the software platform going forward for Centricity/IDX products?

The GE platform strategy focuses on bringing together all the Centricity products within a unified architecture. In the short-term, our goal is to address some immediate priorities for interoperability between systems through a web-based user interface, which manages patient context across systems and supports single sign on. We'll also pursue opportunities for direct data exchange between systems, including ensuring that images are easily accessible from within our electronic medical records.

If Imagecast continues as a product, is the Stentor PACS still a component of that?

GE Healthcare will no longer sell the Stentor PACS solution (now owned by Philips) [that IDX sold]. Going forward we will only sell the GE Centricity PACS solution. However, we will continue to have a development relationship with Philips in order to properly support our existing customer base.

This means continuing to work with Philips product development to bring future releases to the IDX customer base currently using the Philips PACS solution. In the future, we intend to present our customers currently using Imagecast PACS with a compelling alternative to Philips technology and migration strategy that will suit their needs.

What is the impact on customers resulting from the joining of the two product lines?

The GE and IDX product lines are very complementary, and enable use to accelerate our development roadmap. For example, IDX had planned to build its own critical care application for Carecast. We now have a jump start in providing critical care functionality natively within the electronic medical record, because of GE's existing critical care capabilities.

Honoring commitments made to existing customers is very important to us.

In the event that a customer has purchased an application that is not part of our go-forward strategy, we'll continue to provide technical support for that application. For example, some of the former IDX customers have alliance party products in place. We'll continue to support interfaces with those products as we would with any third party vendor. But we'll encourage our customers to consider migrating to the GE family of products, because this will give them the benefit of a more comprehensive product suite with greater interoperability.

Finally, as we look to the future, our goal is to bring together our expertise in information technology combined with device integration and life sciences to help clinicians better predict, diagnose, inform and treat.

What is the differentiator of the "new GE IT" in the marketplace?

The people of GE Healthcare Integrated IT Solutions represent a unique blend of medicine, business and technology. Those areas of expertise give GE a first of its kind strength to offer healthcare customers.

Additionally, GE is uniquely positioned at the intersection of life sciences, device and information technology with the stated goal of fundamentally shifting healthcare from late disease to early health.