When COVID-19 hit and people stopped flying early last year, the aviation industry wasn’t the only one left in the lurch. The paucity of planes in the sky frayed vital supply chains that stretched around the world and left many businesses challenged to keep their factories running. Few had less time to find a solution than healthcare companies supplying clinicians on the pandemic’s front lines with critical equipment to diagnose and treat patients.
“Because flights were far fewer, we had to charter aircraft, we had to do things in logistics that we never imagined,” says Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare. “It demanded huge cooperation, and that’s what I’d like to see going on beyond the pandemic.”
That collaboration extended past manufacturing, into the adoption of telemedicine and efforts to make better use of data and software to improve patient as well as business outcomes for hospitals and other industry players. “We saw a huge switch to digitization from the healthcare systems. Virtual everything: telemedicine, teleradiology,” Murphy says. “I think that will continue into the future. It has been a huge productivity driver, ensuring that we get a high throughput of patients, and of course that will be an area where we will never go back.”
On Friday, Murphy discussed the pandemic’s challenges and opportunities in a video with Mathias Goyen, a radiologist and GE Healthcare’s chief medical officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They were addressing the online attendees of the European Congress of Radiology, a conference focusing on medical imaging and one of largest scientific meetings on the continent. Goyen said that “virtual care empowered by AI is no longer aspirational; it’s mandatory, a must-have component of delivering healthcare in the future.”