GE Announces Initiative To Develop 100 New Lower-Cost Medical Products That Improve Quality, Access to CareGeneral Electric on Thursday announced that it will attempt to expand its health care business by offering more lower-cost products, the New York Times reports (Lohr, New York Times, 5/8). Under the plan, GE will allocate $6 billion over the next six years to develop up to 100 new medical devices by 2015. The company said the products will help lower costs, increase access and improve health care quality, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The initiative, which GE calls "healthymagination," will allocate $3 billion for the development of the new products such as portable ultrasound machines and decision-support software for physicians. GE said each new product must meet health care quality improvement standards, lower costs and increase access to care by 15% (Glader, Wall Street Journal, 5/8).
The initiative also allocates $2 billion toward the expansion of GE's electronic health records service and other health information technologies in rural and underserved regions of the U.S. Additional funds also have been reserved to expand and improve health care services and programs abroad (Manning, AP/Boston Globe, 5/8).
According to the Times, the move is intended to help its health care business, known for its medical imaging and diagnostic devices, which has been "struggling" during the economic downturn because many hospitals and clinics are scaling back on capital spending. Jeffrey Immelt, chair and CEO of GE, said, "The high end in health care is never going to go away," adding, "But this will make us broader in terms of price points and offerings" (New York Times, 5/8).
Immelt noted that while the company's health care goals are in line with those advocated by the Obama administration, the new initiative has been in development for several years and is not dependent on stimulus funding (Wall Street Journal, 5/8).
NBC's "Nightly News" on Thursday reported on the launch of the new initiative (Williams, "Nightly News," NBC, 5/7). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.