Unlocking Value in Healthcare IT


Greetings from Orlando!  I am here for Centricity™ LIVE 2015, where more than 1700 people have gathered at Walt Disney World’s Dolphin & Swan resorts to attend more than 200 education sessions, network, and learn how to maximize their investment in Centricity Solutions.  I always find the three days of Centricity LIVE to be extremely invigorating – I love the energy that comes from the collaboration among customers, partners and GE Healthcare employees.

This morning, GE Healthcare IT CEO Jan De Witte delivered a stirring keynote titled “Unlocking Value in Healthcare IT.”  Jan was followed by surgeon and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Atul Gawande, who shared his thoughts on the industrialization of medicine with a rapt audience.  For those of you who were unable to attend Centricity LIVE, I thought I would share some of the highlights from Jan’s talk.

Everyone knows that healthcare in the United States is shifting from a fee-for-service model to a fee-for-value model.  We define value as improved patient outcomes delivered at the same or lower cost.   However, while defining value may be relatively easy, realizing value is infinitely more complicated.  If all we cared about was quality of care, then we could deliver the best care in the world, but that’s not a financially sustainable model.  On the flip side, if we cut costs indiscriminately, then patient outcomes could be adversely affected – which is an even worse operating model!

The key to realizing value is to maximize productivity – to eliminate waste. Healthcare IT has a critical role to play here.  If the past 15 years have been all about digitization of healthcare data, then the next 15 years are going to all about connecting clinical, financial, and operational data from across the care delivery system.  Once connected, we can generate actionable insights that care systems and care providers can use to drive better outcomes.

Connectivity and analytics that are common-place in other industries like financial services are still in the early phases in healthcare.  It’s our ambition at GE Healthcare IT to deliver analytics and insights to our customers to help them unlock the value hidden in their systems.

What gets Jan – and me – excited about this focus on value is the amazing value creation opportunity that healthcare IT offers.  In the United States, we spend $3.8 trillion on healthcare each year.  Organizations like the Institute of Medicine estimate that roughly that 30% to 40% of that spend is wasted each year.   If we assume the mid-point of that estimate, then nearly $1.3 trillion is wasted each year.  Studies we’ve done internally show that software could eliminate up to 25% of that waste … which means we are looking at a potential annual value creation opportunity of nearly $300 billion from healthcare IT!

In his keynote, Jan shared seven customer stories where Centricity Solutions have helped them improve clinical, financial, or operational outcomes.  I don’t have space here to share all of those stories, but we’ll be posting Jan’s keynote video in a couple weeks, and I encourage you to check it out.

I just want to share one last point which I personally found tremendously motivating.  At the end of the day, everything that we do in healthcare IT is not in service of the doctor – it’s done in service of the patient.  Whether it’s simplifying a bill, improving the scheduling process for ICU nurses, or enabling a radiologist to compare a CT scan from today with one from three years ago at a different hospital … all of these IT solutions are simply tools to help clinicians deliver better care – and ultimately make people healthier.  To think that my efforts each day contribute in some tiny way to making people healthier … well, I can’t think of a better way to spend my working hours.

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