What hospital C-suite leaders think about the GE HealthCare spinoff

Hospital and health system digital and innovation chiefs told Becker's they're excited about the potential of GE's healthcare spinoff to advance the industry's digital transformation and said they envision plenty of partnership opportunities.

GE HealthCare officially became a standalone company Jan. 4, detaching from its 130-year-old parent conglomerate. The spinout intends to focus on artificial intelligence and digital health and views hospitals and health systems as potential collaborators, its U.S. and Canada president and CEO told Becker's recently.

"Innovation in healthcare definitely needs focused teams and thinking. Those teams need the breathing room to explore, test, learn, evolve and engineer products differently," said Kathy Azeez-Narain, chief digital officer of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Hoag. "I look forward to seeing what products and solutions GE HealthCare brings forward, especially as they talked about their company mission being one where they partner with health systems versus compete."

The spinout is centering its strategy on precision care, integrating patient data from imaging, lab, pathology and genomics into personalized diagnoses and treatments powered by AI. On Jan. 10, the company reported $4.9 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, a 7 percent increase year over year.

"Any time we get well-resourced, major companies to attack the overarching problems in healthcare is an asset and a tremendous opportunity," said John Pigott, MD, chief innovation officer of Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica. "This can only do more for patient care, and we look forward to learning more."

GE HealthCare has brought current and former hospital executives aboard to steer its plan. The firm recently named the former digital chief of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health its inaugural chief technology officer. The CEOs of Cleveland Clinic and Renton, Wash.-based Providence both sit on its board.

"GE understands that healthcare is a 'team sport,' and to achieve the best possible healthcare outcomes it needs insights from providers in partnership with third-party technology vendors," said Michael Hasselberg, PhD, RN, chief digital health officer of University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center.

He pointed to the company's Edison Digital Health Platform, a vendor-agnostic data-aggregation program that could allow health systems to more seamlessly integrate apps and data into their clinical workflows, boosting their precision medicine capabilities.

"Henry Ford said it best, 'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,'" said Aaron Miri, senior vice president and chief digital and information officer of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Baptist Health, a GE customer. "I think it's great when any large traditional healthcare company has the courage to try and innovate for the future and blaze new trails."

Karen Murphy, PhD, RN, executive vice president and chief innovation and digital transformation officer of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger, said she's pleased to see the spinoff enlist talent with deep experience in healthcare, innovation, AI and technology.

"The combination of skills will enhance the probability of success for health systems to improve patient experience and outcomes," she said. "I'm looking forward to watching the strategy evolve."

Chris Coburn, chief innovation officer of Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham, said it makes sense a company founded on the "innovative brilliance of Thomas Edison" would shift gears toward the "kind of tight strategic focus that this era in healthcare demands."

He said the new structure should allow GE HealthCare to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of providers and patients, which these days often means delivering care in a variety of locations.

"As digital technology and genomics become ubiquitous throughout medicine, one would expect GE HealthCare will be able to anticipate needs and tie together cutting-edge imaging and molecular diagnostics with predictive tools and care solutions," he said.

Kolaleh Eskandanian, PhD, vice president and chief innovation officer of Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., also pointed to the smaller company's agility as a plus, and said that nimbleness could help it prioritize the "dire unmet needs" of hospitals, patients and families trying to maneuver a "very complex and complicated healthcare environment."

"To incorporate the voice of these stakeholders into the development of novel digital solutions is key," she said.

Santosh Mohan, vice president of digital innovation at Tampa, Fla.-based Moffitt Cancer Center, said it's too soon to tell whether GE HealthCare will succeed. As a standalone entity, it will have to show it can navigate supply chain disruptions and shifting economic conditions and respond to customer needs and market feedback without the support and expertise of its former parent organization.

"With continued investment in and advancement of AI-driven capabilities, workflow integrations and their command center offering, they should be well-positioned to deliver increased clinical and operational efficiency as well as accelerate the momentum in oncology towards precision medicine and personalized treatments," Mr. Mohan said. "We'll have to wait and see how they execute."

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