GE allies with Utah provider to develop expansive IT system

February 21, 2005

GE Healthcare and Intermountain Health Care (IHC) are collaborating on the development of best-practices software for integration into GE’s Centricity IT system. The clinical software will include IHC’s clinical decision-making processes, as well as current and emerging open healthcare standards.

GE Healthcare and Intermountain Health Care (IHC) are collaborating on the development of best-practices software for integration into GE's Centricity IT system. The clinical software will include IHC's clinical decision-making processes, as well as current and emerging open healthcare standards.

The partners chose the 2005 meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society as the backdrop for their announcement.

GE's existing Centricity product will provide the backbone for the development effort, offering workflow automation, clinical documentation, decision support, and quality assurance tools. The expertise at IHC will drive development of the clinical programs.

"We strongly believe that we have to be working very closely with doctors and nurses to translate the clinical workflow directly into our product," said Brandon Savage, general manager for enterprise solutions for GE Healthcare IT. "We are actually opening a development office with engineers and product managers on the IHC campus."

The combined staff, working together in Salt Lake City at IHC's new Center for Clinical Informatics Research, will evolve GE's Centricity platform into a framework for future medical practice. The five-year project will extend beyond radiology to such departments as pharmacy and cardiology, and include functions such as computerized physician order entry.

The software, when sufficiently developed, will be applied in 92 clinics and physician offices and 21 IHC hospitals in Utah and Idaho, serving more than two million patients. Radiology will be a key focus of the development.

"Radiologists are interested in leveraging information found in the rest of the medical record, but there is so much information that it is difficult to pick the data that are applicable," Savage said. "We are going to find ways to summarize the clinical record, using physician support and clinical knowledge to figure out what needs to be pushed to the radiologists so they can make more informed decisions when reading radiological images."

Another goal of the project related to radiology is the development of protocols for choosing imaging exams. These protocols will be based on clinical appropriateness.

"The diagnostic process and the patient information will be embedded so that decisions can be made about whether to order a contrast or noncontrast CT, or whether to order CT or MR," Savage said.

GE will focus initially, however, on pharmacy systems. The goal will be to improve the administration of medication. Immediate advances are possible based just on information already existing, according to Savage. GE and IHC will expand into the varied aspects of medical practice in the years ahead.

Through these efforts, GE will acquire a product with wide-ranging capabilities. IHC, meanwhile, will be the first to benefit from this evolving technology and, possibly, receive a financial sweetener.

"They have an incredible back end - lots of decision support, lots of clinical utility. But their challenge is to make it usable," Savage said. "Our engineers will really get this into their workflow. And we are looking at a royalty."

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