GE Medical Systems forms new company to link clinical patient data

Information Technologies integrates multiple divisionsGE Medical Systems has joined the ranks of companies rushing to provide electronic patient records. The firm has formed a subsidiary—GE Medical Systems Information Technologies—that

Information Technologies integrates multiple divisions

GE Medical Systems has joined the ranks of companies rushing to provide electronic patient records. The firm has formed a subsidiary—GE Medical Systems Information Technologies—that pulls together GE’s various information technology enterprises into a unified division.

Information Technologies will focus on integrating information systems within the hospital environment, concentrating on the individual patient as the unique information identifier.

“We hope to create one record for each patient as that person travels through treatment,” said Greg Lucier, former vice president and general manager of GE Medical Global Services and now president and CEO of the new company. “This will be not just an integrated electronic patient record but also an archived record accessible through the Internet. We want to drive integration at the patient level, including imaging data.”

Lucier said GE Medical Systems has been building its information technology products through internal development and acquisitions in the past three years. The companies making up the new division are Lockheed Martin Medical Imaging Systems, Marquette Medical Systems, Mecon, Applicare, Innomed, Prucka Engineering, and Micro Medical Systems. Their specialties range from PACS to cardiology systems to workflow assessment services.

The firm hopes to take advantage of the financial pressures created by the Balanced Budget Act of 1996 and the hospital system changes necessitated by the implementation of HIPAA. Both laws will require hospitals to invest more in information systems.

“Generally, there is a need for more hospital investment in information systems,” Lucier said. “Those systems have traditionally been a smaller part of a hospital budget.”

Information Technologies’ strategy is to change workflow at the front end and to combine data from disparate information systems into an enterprise-wide network, Lucier said. The core diagnostic imaging products will be collection points, and Information Technologies will expand PACS into radiology information systems and cardiology information systems.

“Cardiology systems and patient monitoring are merging more and more with information systems,” he said.

Engineering teams from Information Technologies’ divisions are creating common user interfaces and backbones for the various products. In coming weeks, the firm will announce an enterprise-wide building-block approach, according to Lucier.

The new Information Technologies’ group already has combined revenue of $1 billion, one-seventh that of GE Medical. The goal is to establish GE’s presence as an information technology firm, building from its imaging systems expertise, and to accelerate its growth in the high-tech market. According to Lucier, the division will be run like a start-up company with the ability to rapidly deploy products and strategies to reflect changes in the marketplace.

Earlier this month GE Medical Systems agreed to buy U.K.-based Magnex Scientific’s clinical business, and separately made a deal with Fonar to provide mutual access to each other’s MRI technology and to sell Fonar’s Stand-Up MRI scanner.

GE Medical Systems also agreed to purchase Life Diagnostics, parent company of Micro Medical Systems of Sioux Falls, SD. Micro Medical Systems supplies Web-based cardiology data repositories, integration solutions, and networking systems for healthcare organizations.

GE will buy the outstanding shares of Life Diagnostics, subject to shareholder approval. Each shareholder will receive two payments, the first as a lump sum at the transaction’s close and the second as another lump sum or over a three-year period.