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Curing By Numbers: Taking Cloud Computing to a New Level

American healthcare has by far the most expensive system in the world, but few would argue that it’s also the most efficient. A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that almost 40 percent of patients are misdiagnosed in primary care1. Another report by the American College of Physicians discovered that unnecessary testing and medical procedures, and extra days in the hospital caused by wrong diagnosis could add up to $800 billion per year2. That’s close to a third of all U.S. healthcare costs. “There is a lot of waste in the system,” says Jeanine Banks, general manager of marketing at GE Healthcare IT. “We want to help rein in the costs and make the system far more efficient.”

That’s not just talk. Engineers at GE Healthcare IT are developing a new “cloud imaging” solution that will allow doctors to create a professional profile, store patient images and data together in one place, view 3D images from anywhere, and access intuitive analytics. “It’s like LinkedIn professional networking meets diagnostic imaging,” Banks says. “It’s all about virtually limitless computing, storage and collaboration on tough cases to help healthcare teams make more informed decisions.”

Banks says that the information physicians need to make diagnoses is often fragmented and sits in siloes. The new platform, GE’s Cloud Imaging solution, allows doctors to exchange images and use social digital tools to share cases with each other over a network instead of distributing CDs, as common practice now. “They can open their browser, click on a link and share quickly,” she says.

Banks says that GE intends to give hospitals the flexibility to host the system on their own servers, as a private cloud, or through GE’s public cloud environment. “We are committed to using industry standards to make it easy to connect medical devices, link with existing PACS (picture archiving and communication systems) and EMR (electronic medical records environments), and enable consistent access to a flourishing ecosystem of apps,” she says. “Providers don’t need more silos of data.”

GE’s first Cloud Imaging pilot site is the Kadlec Health System in Washington State. Kadlec is helping evaluate the platform ahead of plans to demonstrate the new solution during the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in December. “It’s an opportunity for them to use it inside their health system and give us feedback,” Banks says.

For Banks, this is the beginning of a new healthcare revolution. “What if together with industry we could help physicians reduce waste?” she asks. “We could process that information, learn from past diagnostic decisions and store the data all in the cloud to inform future decisions. One day, we could tap into knowledge based on cases from around the world.”

That’s just brilliant.
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1 Journal of American Medical Association 2012
2 Reuter’s, citing study by American College of Physicians

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