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Healing By Numbers: GE Software Investment Will Grow Industrial Internet for Healthcare

Nobody likes waiting and doctors at Florida’s Aventura Hospital and Medical Center hate crowded waiting rooms as much as their patients.

That’s why last year Aventura invested in AgileTrac, a GE software system that pools and crunches gigabytes of patient and equipment data zipping across a hospital-size digital network. 

Each patient now receives an electronic wristband during admission. The wristband automatically checks in as patients arrive in their beds, travel around the hospital, and check out. Similar tags track pumps, heart monitors and other equipment. Aventura estimates that AgileTrac has cut more than 3,000 hours in discharge time at the 400-bed hospital over nine months and freed up the emergency room. “We are doing much better now than a year ago,” says Karen Bibbo, chief nursing officer at Aventura’s parent, HCA East Florida.

The Aventura examples shows the benefits health care providers can earn by using software to improve efficiency and patient outcomes. John Dineen, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, just announced that his business will invest $2 billion to improve and develop new software like AgileTrac over the next five years “to better help our customers manage the operational and clinical complexity across the healthcare system.”

GE Healthcare employs more than 3,000 software engineers and the business is the largest software developer inside GE. The unit is also working with GE’s Global Software Center in San Ramon, California, to expand its software portfolio. “As a result of the Industrial Internet, what you’re seeing from [GE Healthcare] is a doubling down that says that they are going to increase their spending to reflect that opportunity,” Bill Ruh, vice president of the software center, told the WSJ.

Dineen says that the new investment will also allow GE Healthcare to optimize care across entire regions, ultimately providing a safer environment. Doctors at Sweden’s Västra Götaland Region (VGR) Hospital Group, for example, are already using GE’s Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) system to make faster, more informed decisions about patients, often in consultation with remote specialists.

The system can combine clinical images and data from a range of different sources and specialists, and enable analysis and sharing between departments and across hospitals in the region. “What we’ve got now is information transparency,” said Lars Lindskold, chief information officer of VGR’s Radiology Infrastructure.

Says GE’s Dineen: “Healthcare has always relied on big data, and the need to understand data is even greater now.”

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