GE Vice President and GE Healthcare Chief Technology Officer Mike Harsh recently addressed attendees at The Economist’s inaugural “Technology Frontiers” conference where he talked about how technology will change the face of healthcare.
The London-based conference provided a platform for business leaders from across the globe to appreciate how technology will transform the world around us. Reviewing some of the principal innovations of the past decades, Harsh explained how medical technology has experienced explosive growth on a global scale over the past fifty years. “X-ray, surface chemistry, CT, ultrasound, and mammography are now household names and available in countries anywhere around the world,” he said. In the last decade, in particular, healthcare has moved toward customized, individualized treatment —transitioning from ‘see and treat’ to helping clinicians detect signs of a disease at a molecular level. Speaking at the conference, Mike Harsh said that today’s challenge is disease treatment’ to one based on prevention, prediction and presymptomatic detection, with a long-term care paradigm focused on keeping patients in the home-care setting.
Mike Harsh told the conference audience:
“We do not have to wait for technological advances over a 20-year period; We simply need to apply the technologies and information systems already available. Changing our approach to healthcare from reactive to preventative combined with a move from institutional to a community or home-based care for longterm chronic conditions will reduce hospitalizations, be more sustainable and efficient, and benefit not just patients, but the healthcare system as a whole.”
This change, which is now technologically within reach, will save lives, reduce healthcare costs and enable an aging population to lead longer, healthier lives, contributing to society and the economy along the way. The World Health Organization has stated that 80% of heart disease, stroke and diabetes are preventable; and that 40% of cancers could be avoided by lifestyle changes. So, prevention works. The future of healthcare technology holds tremendous promise for increasing patient access to earlier diagnosis and treatment of disease, improving healthcare quality and decreasing healthcare cost. He concluded: “In addition, by combining functional features with emotional benefits, or a focus on industrial design along with user experience, companies such as GE Healthcare are using advanced technology to bring a better emotional experience for patients.“