Whether they know it or not, folks who have had an ultrasound or MRI have likely used GE Healthcare's equipment. As the health care unit of diversified giant General Electric, GE Healthcare is a leading maker of diagnostic imaging equipment, such as MRI, ultrasound, and computed tomography (CT) scanners. The company has its fingers in other medical equipment pies as well: It makes surgical and clinical scanning and monitoring systems (such as ECG monitors), as well as imaging contrast agents (dyes) and molecular diagnostic tests. GE Healthcare also develops technology for drug discovery and manufacturing processes, and it makes clinical and financial management software for health care providers.
While the global General Electric conglomerate is based in the US, the GE Healthcare division is headquartered in the UK. The company supplies its products to hospitals, home health agencies, outpatient imaging centers, and a host of other health care settings worldwide.
GE Healthcare has kept itself at the top of the supplier pile by diversifying its product line (through in-house research and development efforts and by making acquisitions) and by introducing new services to the market. Its products are organized into five segments: health care systems (diagnostic imaging, monitoring, and patient care equipment); surgery (interventional imaging products for minimally invasive surgeries); life sciences (drug discovery and manufacturing technologies); medical diagnostics (chemical imaging agents); and health care IT.
Within the growing IT segment, GE Healthcare's Centricity unit provides solutions including electronic health record (EHR) platforms, revenue-cycle management software, and payroll and billing systems for hospitals and physician practices. The company has a joint venture with technology firm Intel that provides remote patient monitoring systems for the home health and nursing home markets. In addition, in 2012 GE Healthcare and Microsoft launched their Caradigm venture, which is developing a platform to combine provider, patient, and payer information into one interoperable health data network.
The company's R&D efforts aim to further broaden its offering of diagnostic products and services and provide a one-stop-shop for medical imaging laboratories. For instance, in 2011 GE Healthcare received FDA approval for a mobile fetal monitoring device and launched a new imaging agent for the detection and monitoring of Parkinson's disease symptoms. Also in 2011 GE Healthcare made commitments to dedicate chunks of its R&D budget towards cancer diagnosis and treatment projects, as well as programs to develop low-dose radiation technologies.
The company has been working to expand international sales efforts, particularly in emerging markets such as China and India. Growth efforts in emerging markets help to offset slower sales growth in other established markets.
GE Healthcare agreed to sell its Vital Signs business, which makes disposable supplies for the anesthesia and respiratory care markets, to CareFusion for some $500 million in 2013.
Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestments
GE Healthcare has made a number of strategic acquisitions in recent years to expand its operations in key product areas, including health care IT and molecular diagnostics. In early 2014 it agreed to pay some $1 billion for Thermo Fisher's cell culture, gene modulation, and magnetic beads businesses. It's also strengthening its software, data, and analytics business in 2014 by buying Wisconsin-based API Healthcare, a healthcare workforce management software and analytics expert. Also in 2014, the company sold its Breas Medical unit (ventilatiors, sleep apnea products) to the private investment firm PBM Capital Group.
In 2012 it expanded its genetic testing operations through the purchase of nucleic acid sequencing firm SeqWright; the firm also widened its women's health ultrasound system offerings through the purchase of U-Systems. And in 2011 the company bolstered its life science offerings when it acquired PAA Laboratories, a global provider of cell culture lab supplies, and Applied Precision, a maker of cellular imaging technologies for pharmaceutical and biological research labs.