Based on an original piece by Kieran Murphy, President & CEO of GE Healthcare.

In GE’s recent Future of Health webinar, we heard first-hand how developments that would ordinarily have taken years to get a foothold have been adopted by health systems, caregivers, and patients over the past few months. Hospitals acted rapidly to reduce numbers of patients in order to accommodate those with COVID-19, and turned to telehealth and other virtual services to maintain care for non-COVID-19 patients. At Adventist Health, which delivers healthcare services across much of the US West Coast, as many as 80 percent of patients now attend virtual clinics, according to John Beaman, Chief Business Officer.

“With COVID-19, we’ve seen a glimpse of the future, where hospitals will treat the sickest of the sick, with others cared for in the home environment,” he says. He has seen a decline in the number of patients physically within hospitals, yet increased acuity among those patients, and expects this to continue. As work schedules have become more flexible, finding a way to have real-time information has been very important, he says.

We were delighted to hear from John Couris, President and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, that he has seen real productivity gains from their CareComm Command Center from GE, which he referred to as “the center of gravity for our entire health system.”

“Healthcare creates a lot of data, and the challenge is to convert that data into knowledge and act on it. It allows us to shine a bright light into the corners of our institutions and also to support our team as they provide care,” he said.

Tampa General has taken $40 million in cost and 20,000 excess patient days in hospital out of the system in the past two years, cutting average length of stay by a day and adding the equivalent of 30 beds in additional capacity. John points out that if you cut length of stay, metrics for everything else – quality, safety and service – will improve.

Intel is a key partner of GE Healthcare as we continue our work in creating an intelligence-based healthcare system. According to Dave Ryan, Intel’s GM for Health and Life Sciences, the number of requests for systems to enable virtual health has risen dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge is the scale of deployment of infrastructure. Some 40 percent of health systems say that standing up telehealth infrastructure is their top investment priority, according to Intel. However, one material barrier to telehealth adoption is connectivity in remote rural areas.

“Healthcare is, generally speaking, now connected. Data is produced. But taking all that data and converting it into knowledge and actionable insight is key,” says Dave. “The amount of data that is produced can’t possibly be understood and interpreted by a single individual.”

Our customers ask us how we can make their equipment more productive and how they can interface with patients using innovative technology. At one level, it’s clear that the technology has to be simple – patients and caregivers need it to be intuitive. At another, building the intelligence-based health system requires a complete modernization of the current infrastructure to enable virtual hospitals, enable greater access to care and ultimately lower the cost of care delivery. It’s clear that COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change and technological advances. Our panel participants all expect access to healthcare continue to evolve, leveraging technology to do so.

Many thanks to John Beaman, Adventist Health, John Couris of Tampa General Hospital and Intel Corporation's David P. Ryan for sharing their insights with GE Healthcare’s Geoff Martin, Jeff Terry and Everett Cunningham on how COVID-19 is changing healthcare on GE’s recent Future of Health webinar.