GE sets focus on virtual environment
A little over a year ago, GE Healthcare acquired RIS/PACS developer Dynamic Imaging, declaring its intention to offer a suite of imaging informatics products for the outpatient diagnostic imaging center and community hospital market.

The past few months has seen major upheavals in the local and global financial market, downsizing strategies put in place by many diagnostic imaging equipment and informatics developers, and a downturn in durable imaging modality orders attributed to fallout from implementation of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

Don Woodlock, vice president of imaging solutions for GE, told Health Imaging News that despite the recent economic challenges, the company believes the outpatient diagnostic imaging center and community hospital market still to be fertile ground for vendors.

“The value proposition of our products and imaging IT offerings has always been around helping with productivity and helping improve patient care,” Woodlock stated.

The company will be unveiling its overarching strategy for the imaging solutions business at the upcoming RSNA conference in Chicago. The focus will be on a “one desktop, one patient and one community” concept, Woodlock said.

“The strategy will unfold a series of new products and services that will further enable a virtual exam environment—transitioning the radiology workflow from the basement of a hospital to a virtual, multi-hospital, care setting,” he noted. “The future state of health imaging IT will be about putting imaging and information at the hands of radiologists and specialists regardless of their location: whether it’s sending exams to other reading groups or reading exams outside of the four walls of the hospital or imaging centers.”

The One Desktop concept calls for a common, web-based viewer that is open to run other software applications. The One Patient vision is to enable the imaging users to access all studies, either radiology or cardiology, from their desktop through a single patient jacket.  The single patient jacket would enable the radiologists or specialist to compare with historical exams, as well as viewing prior reports generated from other parts of the healthcare system, Woodlock explained.

The One Community concept recognizes that the medical community is becoming increasingly interconnected through informatics. With the availability of web-based technology, Woodlock said, image data can be shared within the medical community for making diagnosis and treatment decisions, while workload can also be shared among radiologists to help improve the services they provide to referring physicians.  
GE said it is looking at a variety of financing models in a concerted effort to provide its customers and potential customers with a variety of options to enable acquisition of desired equipment and systems.

“We have been exploring offering our products under a subscription pricing model to the outpatient imaging center and community hospital market,” Woodlock said. “We’ve been offering this option on an ad-hoc basis but we expect it to probably pick up in this economic environment.”  

He noted that the company will be discussing details of its financing options with interested parties at the upcoming 2008 RSNA conference later this month.