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'Strip away the wires and GE Healthcare can monitor you all the time'

John Flannery, President and CEO of GE Healthcare, the $18-billion unit of General Electric, tells BUSINESS TODAY that as capabilities change, markets change, currencies change, the business dynamics in India keep getting interesting.

John Flannery, President and CEO of GE Healthcare

John Flannery, President and CEO of GE Healthcare (Photo: Vivan Mehra)

John Flannery, President and CEO of GE Healthcare, the $18-billion unit of General Electric, tells BUSINESS TODAY that as capabilities change, markets change, currencies change, the business dynamics in India keep getting interesting. Excerpts:

BT: How will the trend of customers monitoring health through wearables disrupt business?

Flannery: Wearables is a very interesting space. It is going to be largely complementary to what we are doing... We have a lot of R&D looking at things like that. We are talking of wireless monitoring. In our traditional business we put monitors in the ICU. Now you strip away the wires and we can monitor you all the time... The intersection between healthcare and telecom is getting interesting.

BT: What about working with competitors like Siemens and Philips for future devices?

Flannery: The world today is an open architecture world. In other industries, nobody has a proprietary network that no one else can develop on, no one else has access to or interface with. The genie is out of the bottle.

BT: Is there any effort being put in to make them talk?

Flannery: There are standards being put in. For example, in the diagnostic industry there are common standards. The national health organisation in India has signed an MoU with NASSCOM to establish information standards. India could very well become the first country to have a unified IT definition for healthcare. It is early days, but if that works, that is a very visionary approach.

BT: Six years ago GE committed $6 billion towards the healthcare business - a good part of it was to come to India. What has been the outcome?

Flannery: The context was that the Indian market structure required products and services that are priced differently. For our portfolio we needed to rethink our products in a fundamental engineering and design way. Now, we have over two dozen products We are experimenting right now and trying to take it global.... But today it's not just about the equipment. It's much more holistic, it is about training people to operate the machine. It's about the whole ecosystem.

BT: You know India very well, having been in a leadership role here before. What are the takeaways from here in your global role?

Flannery: We have a GE set of beliefs, one of which is that customers determine our success. I saw this in India where the market is the reality. You have to work backwards from that reality, and that has been something that I have tried at a global level. The second big thing is about distributed organisation. Local empowerment. Build great teams around the world and let them operate.

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