A new collaboration is the latest sign that healthcare centers may no longer be constrained by their physical walls.
One of the fastest transitions in healthcare history occurred with little fanfare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Radiologists who interpret images of the human body started working from home in droves when patients began getting scanned away from major hospitals, which were overwhelmed with caring for those stricken by the coronavirus.
This led to some quick — and radical — upgrades. For instance, one Texas radiology business serving dozens of hospitals had limited telehealth infrastructure in place, essentially just enough to cover overnight work while the rest of its 140 radiologists slept. With lockdowns imminent, they rushed to purchase computers, security software, and other equipment to enable more widespread work from home. By the end of April 2020, half of the company’s image readings were being done remotely.1
Now a new collaboration between GE Healthcare and Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants to help make similar transitions even more common.
The collaboration, which places GE Healthcare’s advanced imaging software and Edison Health Services platform on AWS, could change how care is delivered. The collaboration enables healthcare providers to move from the traditional health center-based model to a distributed, virtual one.2 The clinical data the system gathers can power apps and software analytics and lead to new insights.
Medical imaging is a good example. Scanning a patient is a complex task tailored to the patient and their condition. As a result, hospitals want to be able to interact directly with a remote imaging machine and its technician to guide the process. Placing GE Healthcare’s suite of imaging applications in the cloud, including algorithms that help interpret CT, X-ray and MRI scans, could mean that the physical location of the scan will matter less and having the right process and the right clinician managing the care will become the focus. Radiologists in cities as well as rural hospitals, for example, could use the technology to send scans to specialists in given conditions or diseases.
Artificial intelligence is another area where the collaboration between GE Healthcare and AWS could speed up innovation and help clinicians improve care. For example, software developers, data scientists, healthcare practitioners and others could use the offerings provided by GE that run on AWS to create new apps that help improve radiologists’ efficiency and accuracy in interpreting patient scans. Having GE Healthcare’s Edison platform run on AWS can help make it easier to bring new applications to doctors and patients. “As the world moves towards a more virtualized and distributed care delivery model with home care, remote patient management, and the increased use of AI to support radiologists and other clinicians, we are working to make healthcare more efficient and personalized,” said Amit Phadnis, chief digital officer at GE Healthcare.
There are other benefits. For doctors at Neuro Imaging Winter Park in Winter Park, Florida, for example, the thought of moving GE medical imaging software to AWS means spending less time maintaining software. “If you don’t have a big IT team that’s dedicated to constantly making sure everything’s up to date, and the latest protocols are being followed, then you’re at risk,” says Richard Duemmling, chief of business operations at Neuro Imaging Winter Park.