Thursday, February 18, 2010

GE - Introduces an innovative hand-held ultra-sound device, designed in Norway, made in China...Maybe we need to incentivize USa manufacturing...

Vscan, GE Healthcare's Newest Pocket-Sized Visualization Tool for Point-of-care Imaging, to Support Physicians Providing Medical Care for Athletes, Visitors and Trainers at Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Competitions

Pocket-sized, easy-to-use device enables physicians to provide more rapid diagnoses by enhancing the physical exam

VANCOUVER, Feb 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- GE Healthcare announced today that the company's latest ultrasound innovation, Vscan, will be utilized at the Mobile Medical Unit, the medical emergency unit extension of the Whistler Polyclinic in support of athletes, trainers and visitors attending the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games competitions.

Roughly the size of a smartphone, Vscan houses powerful, ultra-smart ultrasound technology that provides clinicians with an immediate, non-invasive method to help secure visual information about what is happening inside the body. Vscan is portable and can easily be taken from room to room to be used in many clinical, hospital or primary care settings.

"GE's goal is to improve the quality of care by increasing access to important healthcare technologies, and this pocket-sized visualization tool will help do that with its portability and high image quality," said Peter Robertson, General Manager of GE Healthcare Canada. "Vscan is a non-invasive tool that can help physician's perform more focused physical exams and provide additional information with immediate visual validation, which may help speed diagnoses, reduce patient wait-times and improve physician workflow."

The ability to take a quick look inside the body using Vscan may help clinicians detect disease earlier. This may prove invaluable in today's busy practice environment including primary care physicians and those specializing in cardiology, critical and emergency care and women's health, as well as hospitalists.

Vscan offers the image quality that until recently was only available with a console ultrasound. Vscan leverages GE's high-quality black and white image technology and color-coded blood flow imaging in a device that fits into a pocket and weighs less than one pound at 3 inches wide and 5.3 inches long. Other features include:

-- An online portal provides Vscan users with training tools for the product and basic clinical applications with sections about imaging technique, anatomy and trouble shooting

-- Intuitive user interface that can be controlled using the thumb

-- Battery charger station and battery life of one hour scanning -- good for up to 30 patients based on average of 2 minutes per scan

-- Voice annotation

-- USB docking station

-- Link to a PC for organization and export of data

-- Gateway software with services tools and remote diagnostics

"Vscan may help change frontline healthcare practice -- improving patient management during the physical exam by providing immediate, non-invasive, visual information inside the body," said Dr. Ross Brown, manager of the Whistler Polyclinic. "We are thrilled to have access to this new ultrasound innovation at the Whistler Polyclinic to help deliver outstanding health care support to the range of individuals visiting the Olympic competitions."

Vscan is a prescription device for ultrasound imaging, measurement and analysis in the clinical applications of abdominal; cardiac (adult and pediatric); urological, fetal/OB; pediatric; and thoracic/pleural motion and fluid detection, as well as for patient examination in primary care and in special care areas.

The Vscan imaging device received 510(k) clearance in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the CE Mark by the European Union, as well as the Medical Device License from Health Canada and is now commercially available in the U.S., Europe, India and Canada.

About GE Healthcare:

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.

Our "healthymagination" vision for the future invites the world to join us on our journey as we continuously develop innovations focused on reducing costs, increasing access and improving quality and efficiency around the world. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a $17 billion unit of General Electric Company /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 16.14, -0.01, -0.06%) . Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs more than 46,000 people committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries. For more information about GE Healthcare, visit our website at

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SOURCE: GE Healthcare


NEW DELHI—India's tax regime often favors importing finished products rather than components and raw materials, and the Indian government needs to offer new incentives to stimulate homegrown manufacturing, a senior Indian official at General Electric Co. said Monday.

V. Raja, president and chief executive of GE Healthcare South Asia, said in an interview that the import tariff on finished goods that GE brings into India typically runs at about 10%. Because of the way the tariff structure works, the duty on the import of components or raw materials necessary for local manufacturing often amount to more than 10%.

"The country is not incentivizing local manufacturing," Mr. Raja said. "There aren't really any incentives for me to do this."

GE is making a big push in the Indian health-care market and has established India as one of its major research and development centers for products that will be sold both in the developed and developing worlds.

A GE Healthcare Vscan portable visualization machine is displayed following a news conference in New York, Oct. 21, 2009. As part of that push, the company unveiled a small new ultrasound machine called the Vscan Monday that it says will bring the advantages of ultrasound diagnosis to many more doctors and clinics in India.

The Vscan is portable, battery-operated and will sell in India for about $12,000 (550,000 to 600,000 rupees), which the company hopes will make it popular in a health-care market that is in its infancy and where patients, especially in rural areas, often lack access to sophisticated medical equipment.

"We believe Vscan can reduce the need for more tests and referrals during physical examinations and could make health care more accessible to people in India," Mr. Raja said.

The Vscan was designed in Norway and is being manufactured in China. Mr. Raja said the company evaluated the relative advantages of manufacturing in other places, including India, but decided that China offered the best combination of cost and closeness to a major market. He said he hoped eventually to manufacture the product in India.

The wider availability of ultrasounds in India is a controversial topic since there is a traditional preference for boys over girls. In 1994, the government outlawed sex selection. Still, the country's ratio of boys to girls tilts sharply in favor of boys. Some government officials have linked the skewed ratio to the wider availability of ultrasounds, as the determination of sex can prompt the abortion of a female fetus.

Mr. Raja said sales of the Vscan would be governed by the same rules as for other ultrasound machines. The government requires doctors to undergo training and receive a license before purchase. GE also does an internal audit to ensure that every ultrasound sale is to a licensed purchaser. He added that the Vscan is not primarily targeted at the traditional pre-natal medical market but at emergency rooms and general physicians.

GE Healthcare's Indian revenue grew at an annual average rate of 16% to 17% in the past five years. The company declined to disclose specific revenue numbers for sales in India. But Mr. Raja said he expects the revenue growth rate to increase to 30% a year over the next five years as the company focuses on expanding accessibility to its products, lowering the cost, and working with the government to improve health-care quality. The goal, Mr. Raja said, "is how we can try to drive health care, which could be made affordable and available to the masses."

That drive faces a number of challenges. There is very little regulation of health-care equipment in India, which leaves the market vulnerable to sales of shoddy machinery, Mr. Raja said.

The vast majority of Indians still pay for health care out of their own pocket because health insurance is in its infancy so "the propensity to pay is still a huge challenge given the per capita income," Mr. Raja said.

Nor does the government treat health care as a priority worthy of special treatment such as power generation or road construction, he said. As a result, it does not received favorable financing terms as these other sectors do.

Write to Paul Beckett at

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