From his perch atop the technology pipeline at GE Healthcare, Michael Harsh sees a couple of areas in which the healthcare industry must make a significant leap forward before it can move from what he calls “sick care” to providing true “healthcare.”
Harsh, the chief technology officer at the global conglomerate, said that means moving imaging technologies and healthcare information systems away from simply collecting data to diagnosing, detecting and providing clinical value.
Harsh, speaking to a crowd of about 500 at the Back Bay Events Center for CIMIT’s 2009 Innovation Congress, said imaging devices must move from an anatomical model to a pathological model, so physicians can start seeing the early causes and roots of disease. Healthcare information systems need to transition from simple data collection to providing clinical outcomes, he added.
“This is going to be key as we move to providing real healthcare instead of sick care,” Harsh said. “I still think we’re in a ‘sick care system.'”
The first step in bettering that system is improving patient flow from primary care to diagnosis to hospital.
“As you travel through the healthcare system today, if you’re lucky your health records will travel faster than you do.”
The innovation congress concludes today in Boston.
Innovation on display in the Exploratorium
One of the highlights of the CIMIT congress is the cutting-edge technology on display in the Exploratorium, a showroom for technology being developed at local hospitals and research institutions.
A couple that stood out include a biomimetic spleen for sepsis therapy, a platform that uses magnet-like technology to identify and remove certain fungal pathogens from the blood. It’s being developed by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University along with Children’s Hospital, Princeton University, Harvard Medical School and MIT.
Another technology, Project RED, is a “virtual discharge” terminal, which puts patients through a set of questions on a computer terminal before discharging them from the hospital. The goal is to increase the amount of information nurses can collect on discharge to ensure that a patient is ready to go home. Northeastern University professor Timothy Bickmore, a principal investigator on the project, said the goal is to cut down on the amount of 30-day re-admissions to the hospital. Bickmore is working with Boston Medical Center on the project.
The Exploratorium includes more than 50 new technologies in various stages of development.