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GE CEO Says Radiology, Pathology Will Merge

July 17, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Neuroradiology, Practice Management
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Jeffrey I. Immelt sees a merger in radiology’s future.

Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric, gave a keynote address during last week’s Radiology Leadership Institute event in Evanston, Illinois. The institute is a program of the American College of Radiology.

GE spends $1.5 billion annually on health care research and development, Immelt said. A significant part of that money is going to what he called “high-value diagnostics” in neurology and oncology:

We believe high-value diagnostics merged with radiology is a way to reduce health care costs in the long term. To that end, we are placing bets that radiology is going to merge with pathology, and, over time, we think this is the next leg of growth for you and us.

Immelt was quoted in an imagingBiz report about his speech.

As CEO of a major manufacturer of imaging machines and other medical devices, Immelt looks at the upward spiral of health care costs from an unusual perspective: it’s both good and bad for his company.

The more devices GE sells at the highest possible price, the more the company profits. But the cost of health-care insurance for its employees reduces that profit.

“I don’t agree with many things in health care reform, but I applaud the president for taking it on,” said Immelt, who has been an economic adviser to President Obama. “We are going to be working on health care for the rest of our lives. The U.S. spends about $2.5 trillion in health care, and this year it is going to grow about 9.5 percent. It is unsustainable.”

Some—but not all—technology can help reduce costs, he said:

I think a lot of the investment in technology has been wasted so far because we have used it for connectivity and not decision support.

Immelt recommended that radiologists invest in technology and systems that can reduce cycle times. Although any investment carries risk, he said, “People who do not assume risk are going to get hammered.”

In radiology these days, risk comes with the territory.

Related seminar: The Business of Radiology

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