The modern healthcare environment continues to be transformed by advances in technologies such as medical imaging and is driven by data that are enabling clinicians to provide more efficient and precise care. But challenges can also come with those advances that can make it difficult for health systems to operate efficiently and securely, as well as ensuring fleets of imaging equipment are running optimally. Health systems are looking to industry leaders for partnership in addressing their long-term needs for equipment servicing, cybersecurity and long-term technology planning.
To support a collaborative healthcare ecosystem in a rapidly changing multi-vendor environment, strategic partnerships to optimize operations are helping healthcare providers meet patient needs and improve outcomes. As an industry leader, GE Healthcare is working with customers to create contemporary, sustainable partnerships. Their goal is to provide strategic and agile vendor-neutral solutions to support optimal resource utilization, and ensure the protection that connected medical devices require, so that clinicians can access information quicky and safely while providing patient care. As a dedicated partner, GE Healthcare is also assisting customers with technology road mapping scenarios that create optionality and flexibility so they can continue to address their patients’ health needs well into the future.
A committed partner in service from day one
Having a partner that is committed to the overall success of the operation is arguably the most important quality to look for in an equipment service provider. Affidea, the leading provider of advanced diagnostic imaging, outpatient and cancer care services in Europe, operates 320 centers in 15 countries. To continually meet the needs of its patients and their experience, Affidea has a strong partnership with GE Healthcare’s service team to keep its very large fleet of imaging systems operating efficiently with a critical focus on equipment uptime, quality, compliance and improving efficiency.
When it comes to what matters most in a partnership or collaboration with an equipment service provider, Robert Paroczai, Affidea’s Medical Technology Director expects their partners will have their key performance indicators top of mind, as well as the technical expertise and capabilities to handle the needs of their fleet of more than 1,500 imaging systems. There should be an assurance that all equipment is safe and compliant for use with heavy focus on quality and consistency in the fleet’s capacity to handle the demand required to deliver high-quality patient care.
“Improving the patient experience across their care journey is key to our focus and at the core of what we do. At the same time, operational efficiency is another factor we take into consideration,” Paroczai said. “Unscheduled maintenance and repairs are naturally a part of our business. Because of that, scheduling and turnaround time is very critical to us. But on top of the service job, we are looking for partners who can also contribute to quality improvement. The [system] uptime, time to fix, and first-time fix ratio are the three key performance indicators most important to us and should be important to each and every maintenance department.”
Being proactive in service is driving efficiency at Affidea. The director of service for Affidea’s fleet is working to align all the countries’ service delivery, giving them the ability to simply find the escalations and most importantly, improving the reaction time to reduce unscheduled downtime that can interrupt patient care.
“Since day one, we have had consistent service delivery, transparent communication and full visibility on all service details and interventions. Using the latest tools, we can tightly monitor the status of the equipment in real time,” Paroczai explained.
“Key maintenance metrics were always part of Affidea’s maintenance strategy. With the collaboration of GE Healthcare, and with the improvements we make together in the work process, we managed to increase our uptime together. And this is, I believe, a very important milestone in the partnership that we are building within the last few years.”
Collaboratively protect connected medical devices with added cybersecurity
A proactive, systems approach is effective in protecting connected medical devices such as imaging systems. Working with an industry partner that is not only invested in servicing medical equipment, but who also offers a comprehensive cybersecurity solution is essential in today’s healthcare environment. The number of data breaches in healthcare has risen by more than 55 percent in recent years, with a cost of over $13 billion. Similar to what’s needed in a service vendor, the ability for a cybersecurity solutions partner to have a proactive, real-time approach for managing how to combat the risks associated with medical devices is equally crucial.
As a global service provider, GE Healthcare is working with customers to integrate a robust, wing-to-wing cybersecurity strategy and solution. Addressing the risk landscape and monitoring it on a continual basis helps to secure the health system enterprise.
“While there is no one silver bullet that can solve the cybersecurity challenges in every health system,” explained Sher Baig, Senior Director, Global Cyber Product Commercialization at GE Healthcare, “we work with customers to secure the health system across the enterprise, with a vendor-neutral solutions customized to fit each customers’ need to further enhance their internal cybersecurity capabilities, while providing 24/7 monitoring and threat detection leveraging people, process, and technology to support wing-to-wing security for all medical and IoT devices, regardless of the make, model or OS version.”
Valued partnership / optionality in healthcare financial services
The role of partnerships in healthcare is becoming essential, and more prominent, as the realization dawns that it can be more effective to collaborate in order to achieve goals, growth and sustainability. Strategic partnerships can be especially valuable for healthcare systems in rapidly changing environments and when addressing challenging circumstances. The right partner can add to a provider’s operational efficiency, expertise and resources.
In support of its partnerships, global service providers like GE Healthcare not only provide service and cybersecurity solutions, but also work collaboratively with customers on financial services in strategic areas such as technology planning, budgeting and risk sharing so that customers can maximize their capital investments in areas that will ultimately benefit patients.
The healthcare landscape is recovering from a very volatile 18-24 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which many providers needed to become more flexible. Patient needs and the services they provided to patients changed dramatically almost overnight.
“When chief financial officers, treasurers and finance leaders look at the landscape,” explained Mark Lombardi, GE Healthcare Financial Services Business Leader for the US and Canada, “they’re now putting a premium on flexibility and optionality while still keeping costs in focus. So many institutions have found themselves underinvested in the areas we specialize in and our ability to help them catch up, using financial tools that balance the dollars that they have budget approved, has kept our team very busy.”
Addressing unplanned needs has been tantamount in healthcare and from a financial perspective, a collaborative partnership can result in some optionality with respect to investments, terms and risk management.
“Infrastructure was one area where we saw a significant increase in demand,” explained Lombardi. “The pandemic increased interest in this area along with requests for both X-ray systems and ventilation upgrades, which has remained consistent even after the surges we saw in 2021. Additionally, we’ve seen a significant uptick in requests for long term patient monitoring fleet offerings, given the recent advances in the capability of that equipment.”
Lombardi related the experience of a customer in New York City that initiated a large-scale X-ray purchase to serve their patients. Though they needed the equipment immediately, they didn’t have the budget.
“We found a way to bridge them. We structured their acquisition in a way that allowed optionality at the end of a term to either send it back or keep it, while meeting their budget limitations. Simply put, we want our customers to understand they can reach out to us for guidance even if they end up using a different source of capital. Engage us early and that will help us structure options that can get you where you need to be now and into the future all while balancing the cost pressures that seem to be intensifying as opposed to abating.”
Collaborative partnerships working toward the future
Change is a constant in healthcare today, and innovation is emerging at hyper speed. Combined with the need for enterprise-level solutions, plus the expectation of near-instant results, it may seem impossible for healthcare systems to go it alone. Many health systems are realizing that the key to sustainability and growth of their imaging operations can be found developing purposeful strategic partnerships that can help achieve their goals in a dynamic industry while helping them deliver better patient care.
Working with industry partners, radiology departments and health systems are ensuring their operations are working at peak efficiency levels, and with the security necessary to keep important patient health information, and patients safe. The addition of technology roadmaps and flexible financial solutions ensures patients are able to access the services they need for better outcomes, now and in the future.
On-demand: Cybersecurity in healthcare
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