May 7, 2009

GE To Invest $6 Billion In Global Healthcare Initiative

General Electric Co. announced Thursday that it will invest $6 billion over the next six years to improve quality and lower the costs of healthcare in underserved regions throughout the world.

The initiative aims to cut health care costs by 15 percent through a $3 billion investment in new, lower cost medical technology.  The program also aims to broaden the use of tools such as electronic medical records and other information technology, with the goal of providing advanced medical care to an additional 100 million people annually.

The $3 billion in funding includes $2 billion to finance medical information technology for rural U.S. health care systems.  The money will also expand health clinics in Cambodia and provide additional resources for maternal health care programs in Bangladesh.

"Health care needs new solutions," said GE's chief executive Jeffrey Immelt.

"We must combine technology with innovations and smarter processes that help doctors and hospitals deliver better health care to more people at a lower cost," an AP report quoted him as saying.

GE, which has struggled amid the global economic slowdown and problems at its GE Capital financing arm, has said that energy and health care are two likely growth areas in the years ahead.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based company plans to use its NBC television networks as a way to increase consumer knowledge about health, and will launch a daily program dedicated to health in June on its MSNBC channel.

GE has named the new program "healthymagination," saying it is similar in scope to the "ecomagination" initiative that focuses on clean energy initiatives like wind turbines and more efficient electric grids.

The company plans to appoint a health care advisory board for the "healthymagination" program that includes former Senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist.

GE is one of the world's top industrial companies, producing products ranging from household appliances to jet engines and light bulbs. It also has a substantial health care division that makes diagnostic equipment for hospitals and medical IT systems.


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