RSNA: GE’s Immelt talks analytics and the future of innovation

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CHICAGO—In the exhibit halls at RSNA over the years, technology advancements were often touted based on the number of CT slices or an MRI’s bore size. Now, though, the future of radiology lies in the innovations that are being made in analytics and information collection, according to Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE.

“The biggest technical theme in the world today is the merger between machines and data,” declared Immelt during the New Horizons Lecture at the annual meeting of the RSNA. “If you think you’re an industrial company, you’re really a data company.”

In his talk, which bounced between discussions of the wider healthcare landscape and how GE specifically fits in, Immelt highlighted a number of advancements.

Precision medicine and the development of radiogenomics loom large in radiology, according to Immelt, as does the merging of the fields of radiology and pathology.

Mobility is also highly sought after, and while Immelt says GE isn’t in the consumer-focused mobile space, the company remains focused on developing diagnostic tools that are mobile

Underlying the lecture was the idea that everyone at the conference—providers and vendors alike—has a role to play in the future of healthcare. Physicians will depend on industry to deliver the tools, while radiologists will continue to focus on improving outcomes and patient satisfaction.

"We're going to be working on this the rest of our lives in terms of how to improve healthcare outcomes, costs and quality,” said Immelt, who stressed that no single law or magic button will provide the ultimate solution.

“All of us have the responsibility to control costs, to bring care to more people.”

Shifting back to the technology, Immelt also mentioned the GE Health Cloud, a platform that can be leveraged by radiologists to study and share images. “The information created by radiologist is the most valuable in the hospital,” said Immelt.

Despite the advances, radiology and healthcare in general are still in the beginning stages of utilizing analytics and advanced communication tools. Immelt said the industry as a whole will have to learn how to adapt and grow together.

The lecture was dedicated to Ferenc A. Jolesz, MD, director of the MRI Division and the Image-Guided Therapy Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Immelt, formerly head of GE’s Medical Systems division (now known as GE Healthcare), called Jolesz a friend. Jolesz passed away Dec. 31, 2014.