Rethinking Healthcare

Why did no one see through GE 'strategery'?

Posting in Healthcare

Had GE put out a press release stating it would do nothing but support open standards in its health IT efforts, and publish its APIs, it would have offered far more in the way of healthy imagination than it did in its entire dog-and-pony show.

I am still scratching my head over the failure of the media concerning the recent GE Healthcare strategy announcement, whose meaning is much like that of Will Ferrell's famous "strategery" comment, while playing George W. Bush, back in 2000?

Ferrell's line, in a debate sketch, became a catch phrase which remains associated with the now-former President, yet the message behind the line never got through until many years later.

What Ferrell was saying was that Bush was a buffoon.

In the case of the GE event on May 7, the company is putting millions into selling the message that it is putting billions into technology that will transform health care under the tag line "Healthy Imagination."

In fact, it takes quite a healthy imagination to think the planned strategy (or strategery) will fulfill its promise.

Fact is GE is the cause of most health IT problems, not the solution. It is best known for its diagnostic and imaging gear, which is the equivalent of a printer or scanner on a PC.

The difference is that, while your PC's printer-scanner uses transparent, open standards to deliver its data, GE's gear may not. And the same is true for many other companies' diagnostic or imaging gear.

I wrote about this problem back in 2007. Too often breakthroughs in scanning lead to proprietary formats. Proprietary formats can make a doctor's EMR system into so much junk. I wrote this after visiting an eye surgeon who had to junk his practice's EMR system for just that reason.

These kinds of problems remain pandemic throughout the medical industry. Without adherence to open standards, without transparent APIs that anyone can write to, many EMR systems become obsolete as soon as they are installed.

Had GE put out a press release stating it would do nothing but support open standards in its health IT efforts, and publish its APIs, it would have offered far more in the way of healthy imagination than it did in its entire dog-and-pony show.

Instead, it offered strategery.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure