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Wisconsin giant continues to dominate the health care IT market

LONDON—A $14 billion unit of General Electric has just been ranked the number-one healthcare information technology company in the 11th Annual Healthcare Informatics 100 published in the June 2004 edition of Healthcare Informatics, where companies are ranked by their health care IT revenue.

Since 1993, each year Healthcare Informatics asks over the 1,700 companies registered in their database to submit their health care IT earnings for the previous year. The data is compared with other financial information from different sources to rank the top 100 companies.

GE Healthcare, formed in 2000, consists primarily of two business subunits: GE Healthcare Technologies and GE Healthcare Biosciences.

The GE Healthcare Technologies subunit, estimated to be worth $11 billion dollars, made its debut in the annual rankings in 2001 with a $1 billion dollar turnover. It came in at number four on the list.

GE Healthcare Technologies then took the top position in the 2003 ranking with revenues of $1.8 billion dollars and in 2004 saw this increase to the tune of $2.7 billion dollars to keep the Wisconsin-based company on top of the list for the second year running.
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The portfolio of GE Healthcare includes medical imaging and information technologies, patient monitoring systems and health care services. Since its inception, GE Healthcare has made huge inroads in the health care IT market.

However, the year 2003 could be considered one of the busiest for the company as it made moves to solidify its leading position in the health care IT market by the key acquisitions of some of its competitors.

In the summer of that year, GE Healthcare announced it had acquired Triple G Systems Group, a leading producer of laboratory information systems. This was quickly followed by the acquisition of French-based Thales Ultrasound Probes, a supplier of transducer for ultrasounds and Finnish-based Instrumentarium, a leading producer of anesthesia and critical care systems.

All these led to an increase in the portfolio of products and services GE Healthcare had to offer to the health care IT market. However the Wisconsin giant was not finished, as in the autumn of 2003 it announced plans to acquire Amersham.

Amersham, based in the UK, is a leading producer of diagnostic imaging technology as well as drug research and development technology solutions. GE Healthcare finally announced in January 2004 that it had finally completed the acquisition of Amersham for $9.5 billion after receiving clearance from authorities in Europe and the United States.

By these acquisitions, GE has declared its intent to take the health care market by storm. Earlier in the year, GE chairman and chief executive officer, Jeffrey Immelt, was quoted as saying “Health care is an unstoppable demographic. We want to make sure we are well-positioned for that.”

Immelt added, “We’ve invested to make it bigger, better and more substantial.” This has seen GE Healthcare in the past decade expand its revenue from all its subunits from $4 billion to $15 billion and their employee numbers grow to 40,000, including 6,500 in Wisconsin with an estimated 2,000 more to come.

With the moves from the U.S. government to get more health care organizations to adopt health care technology as a way of reducing medical errors and improving the efficiency in the delivery of services, GE Healthcare can look forward to more periods of sustained growth.

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Obi Igbokwe is the principal consultant for Biomedical Informatics Ltd in London and can be reached at igbokwe@biomedical-informatics.com.

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