General Electric (GE) announced yesterday that it will spend $3 billion over the next six years on new medical technology as part of its new "Healthymagination" initiative. The initiative will also include participation with healthcare providers that have been actively involved in healthcare innovation in the United States, including Salt Lake City-based Intermoutain Healthcare, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic.
The goal is to launch at least 100 innovations that "lower cost, increase access, and improve quality by 15%," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, at a conference held in Washington. This means the company will be "accelerating health information technology, improving access, and really driving health into the home and into more preventative settings."
At the same time, the company will focus on the health of its 600,000 workforce as well. "In employee settings, we are going to make our workforce healthier," Immelt said.
The company will invest in wellness and healthy worksite programs and is aiming to keep the annual rate of growth of employee health costs at the consumer price index or less.
One focus of the initiative will be electronic medical records and other information technology. GE, working with Intermountain Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic, already has developed physician decision support through IT in the form of evidence based care and announced that it will be launched commercially in 2010.
Brent James, MD, executive director of Intermountain's Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research, said at the conference, that they mostly use the EMR to build it into workflow--"so it becomes the routine way things are happening."
The Healthymagination initiative is being patterned after GE's successful "Ecomagination" program launched four years ago that emphasized environmental issues.
“We saw the same type of tipping point,” Immelt said. “We learned that technical innovation can drive solutions and value for customers, investors, employees, and the public."