Renewing healthcare from the inside out

11:18 | 05/09/2016
The vast majority of the world’s population has limited access to affordable and quality healthcare. GE Healthcare’s newly launched Sustainable Healthcare Solutions has gone the extra mile to bring advanced technologies and accessible medical solutions to the world’s emerging markets. Tay Lan reports on how this new business model is benefitting patients in Vietnam.
Local heathcare workers train under GE Healthcare supervision at Viet Duc Simulation Training Lab for Anesthesia and Intensive Care

Today, nearly 5.8 billion people in the world have limited access to quality, affordable healthcare. Emerging countries are the most impacted by this. The disparity between developed and emerging economies is significant, with 80 per cent of the world’s healthcare spending going to only 20 per cent of the population. In addition, emerging economies have roughly one-sixth of the healthcare delivery capacity of developed markets.

To help address these inequities in healthcare around the world, GE Healthcare established its new Sustainable Healthcare Solutions (SHS) business last year, as part of the company’s commitment to providing basic and essential healthcare in underserved communities. GE Healthcare’s SHS combines operations in India and South Asia, Africa, and Southeast Asia with the company’s Affordable Care Portfolio.

Disruptive technologies for emerging markets

In 2015, GE Healthcare announced committing $300 million to developing solutions specifically tailored for emerging markets through its Affordable Care Portfolio. The development of these products largely came from the demand of GE Healthcare customers in emerging markets. 

Rather than creating technologies for the developed world and waiting for them to trickle down to emerging economies, GE Healthcare did the opposite – they developed products from the ground up, listening to the needs of their customers to fit their local demands at a more economical cost structure. By doing so, GE Healthcare created a portfolio unique to emerging market economies that enables them to provide sustainable, quality healthcare.

For example, Vscan Access, a next generation ultrasound device, was developed based on the need for primary healthcare workers to do obstetric and abdominal ultrasound in remote areas in Indonesia’s low-resource settings.

“Relevant and cost-effective solutions, specific to our customers’ environment, play a critical role as developing countries continue to invest in effective, long-term healthcare to improve the health of their populations,” said Myra Eskes, president and CEO at GE Healthcare ASEAN.

Cost-effective solutions in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the countries in ASEAN that has already benefitted from the Affordable Care Portfolio.

A lack of vital healthcare equipment continues to be a challenge in Vietnam. An assessment carried out by the Ministry of Health (MoH) last year revealed that district-level hospitals and clinics were only equipped with 20-50 per cent of the required technologies, resulting in an overload of patients at central hospitals across the country. By providing cost-effective solutions, GE Healthcare is trying to alleviate some of the pressure the Vietnamese healthcare system is facing today.

This year, GE Healthcare introduced Revolution ACT as a new member of the Affordable Care Portfolio, a full-body CT scanner with many features inherited from the most advanced Revolution CT system, including the simple user interface and low-dose radiation technology, but at a fraction of the cost.

“This new CT system is about innovating for affordability and defining solutions that deliver high-quality CT diagnostic solutions in the most challenging healthcare markets. We hope the value of this new CT scanner will help improve Vietnamese patients’ access to quality diagnosis and treatment across the country,” said Vu Duc Nhat, digital imaging manager at GE Healthcare.

Since its launch, GE Healthcare has installed 10 Revolution ACT machines in hospitals throughout Vietnam.

“One month after being put into operation in Ninh Binh General Hospital, we have found that the CT scanners are very easy to employ due to their automation process,” said Dr Dinh Van Ha, head of the Diagnostic Imaging Department at Ninh Binh General Hospital. “All our medical staff knew how to operate the machines after their very first technical training session.”

Committed to education and capacity building

Providing disruptive technologies is one piece of the puzzle. GE Healthcare believes that improved skills can increase access to more affordable healthcare, as equipment can only go so far if it is not utilised in the most efficient and effective manner.

GE Healthcare has a long history in supporting education and training to drive improved health outcomes, exemplified by its recent commitment to invest $1 billion by 2020 – which will result in the training of over two million clinicians, who will provide treatment to over 300 million patients.

In Vietnam, the company is working closely with the MoH, local healthcare providers, and educational institutions to develop and grow the country’s healthcare workforce.

In June 2016, GE Healthcare, in cooperation with Viet Duc Hospital and the Vietnam Society of Anaesthesiologists, announced the opening of Viet Duc Simulation Training Lab for Anesthesia and Intensive Care aimed at improving education and training, and raising awareness on the importance of safe anaesthetic administration in Vietnam. As one of the largest teaching hospitals in Hanoi, the training centre at Viet Duc Hospital will train up to 400 healthcare students and trainees a year.

In addition to Viet Duc Hospital, GE Healthcare has made other significant investments into enhancing training and education in Vietnam. In March 2015, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bach Mai Hospital to introduce a new education programme. This programme will help train Vietnamese clinicians on how to better utilise patient monitors to improve care, specifically in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit.

By providing an ecosystem of solutions, which includes relevant, cost-effective technologies and equipping local talent with education and training, GE Healthcare is helping to raise the standards of healthcare from the inside-out, ensuring access to quality healthcare and driving more positive health outcomes for all.

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