Draw closer to a healthier community

July 31, 2017 | 09:39
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GE Healthcare is the medical arm of General Electric (GE), one of the first US companies established in Vietnam with a wide range of services and products to offer in the healthcare, power, and energy sectors. On July 20, GE Healthcare and Friendship Hospital unveiled the Revolution CT 256 detector rows, GE’s latest revolutionary healthcare technology, which offers superior performance while lowering risks compared with the last model. Chintan Desai, commercial general manager of GE Healthcare ASEAN, spoke with VIR’s Trung Nguyen on GE Healthcare’s development plans in Vietnam.

GE Healthcare is currently co-operating with many different hospitals in Hanoi. Are there any significant differences among these arrangements?

Our plan to work with hospitals largely depends on what their focuses are. Our technology portfolio is now the widest in the industry, so we do not approach a hospital with a specific product to sell in mind. We work with the hospitals, ask them about their focus areas, and recommend technology and solution based on the answers. Some hospitals are looking for training programmes, some for research, and some are focusing on public health. We will work with each hospital according to their needs.

In the case of Friendship Hospital, they have a strong focus on cardiology, which is why we think the Revolution CT is the right technology solution, and the software and training packages we have built are more focused on the needs of the hospital.

What is GE Healthcare’s development plan in Vietnam? Will you expand the number as well as the areas of co-operation with private as well as public hospitals in Vietnam?

We do have a specific strategy for the private sector, which is where a lot of the clinical advancement, research, and high-end technology are going to be.

On the other hand, the public sector is all about the health of the populace, which is extremely important. They usually provide services to a large number of people at the lowest possible cost, because the majority of the population, especially in the non-urban areas, cannot afford some of the premium technology. We have both premium technology solutions and affordable technology solutions. On the public side, our plan is to expand into the provinces and provincial hospitals with affordable care solutions. At the same time, urban areas such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where doctors would like to do more advanced work, are where we bring the premium technology.

The rural areas in Vietnam are very large, but the infrastructure is quite underdeveloped. What is GE Heathcare’s plan for co-operation in this area?

The type of technology we are making in the affordable bracket of our portfolio is designed for infrastructures that are not necessarily well developed. We have a CT system which can work in harsh environments, can handle power fluctuations, even rough usage, since medical staff in the rural areas is not always as well-trained as in the city. We also provide a lot of training, so we understand that the clinical ability of doctors or radiographers is not the same everywhere. Just giving them the technology is not the solution, we have to give them training and support. It is a very different model of support that we have for them.

Currently, most medical equipment in Vietnam is imported from oversea. Since GE Healthcare has such a presence in Vietnam, do you have any plans to bring production here, in addition to services and training?

Why not? Just an example, we used to manufacture our CT in only two places, Japan and the US. Today, our engineering technology is done in places like Israel, India, and China, and we also have research and development facilities all over the world. The global quality management system allows us to keep the quality standard no matter where the manufacturing site is located. We look at Vietnam as a potential manufacturing base, for sure. I think this is an idea we would first need to discuss with the government. For example, what types of projects can we co-invest in? We would love to have a local footprint in Vietnam.

Investing in hospitals in Vietnam is said to be lucrative. Since GE has GE Capital, do you think that maybe investments in this vein is what you are looking for?

Most definitely. When we talk about solutions, it is not just about technology. Training and providing services are two types of solutions, financing is a third. We help many of our customers who are buying new technology for the first time with financing. That is why we have distribution partners all over the country, to make sure we always have local support, including financing, available. We have new models, where customers can pay per use or they can pay overtime as they make money. Bigger hospitals perhaps do not need as much financing, but smaller hospitals are where we see a lot of financing opportunities.

Can you share a little on GE Healthcare’s research and development plans for the future?

GE Healthcare spends about $1 billion every year on research, and this is our 125th year in operation. I believe innovation is in our blood. We are proud to say that we are the market leader, especially in the field of medical imaging. Many innovations are coming, in both software and hardware, but the direction is also changing. More and more research is going into life sciences. Early diagnosis is coming into demand. Everyone wants to start the treatment before patients reach the critical stage. This is where our research is currently going, molecular imaging, , life sciences and cell theraphy, so that we can better understand diseases and build the tools for early diagnosis.

Breakthrough in cardiac CT at Friendship Hospital Breakthrough in cardiac CT at Friendship Hospital GE Healthcare, in co-operation with Hanoi’s Friendship Hospital within the framework of the Diagnostic Imaging on Cardiac symposium, held the launching ceremony for the Revolution CT 256 detector rows, an innovation in the diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.

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