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Health system agrees to 7-year contract with GE

The deal is the first of its kind and will help Temple become more efficient.

Temple University Health System signed a seven-year contract with General Electric that will save the health care department about $39 million.

“It’s the first time that a company like GE has partnered with an academic center in this sort of relationship,” said  Larry Kaiser, dean of Temple’s School of Medicine and CEO of TUHS.  “I think the uniqueness of that was what brought [Jeffrey] Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, to Temple the other day when we signed this really historic agreement.”

Clifford Belden, professor and chair of radiology at Temple’s School of Medicine and radiologist-in-chief for Temple University Health System said it was a matter of figuring out how to “service needs” at Temple.

Through the collaboration, most medical equipment used on Temple’s campuses—like MRI machines and CAT scanners—will be replaced by GE’s products.

“Both organizations started collaborating on what the real problem was,” said John McCarthy, a general manager at GE Healthcare. “The real problem was, ‘How do we invest in new technology that will provide patients better care but at the same time lower our cost?’”

With advanced equipment, Temple Health expects exam results with better resolution, and at a faster pace, Belden said.

“When the system becomes more efficient, it means you’ll be able to change the question from, ‘When is the machine available?’ to ‘When is it convenient for the patient to come?’” he said.

The older MRI machines required the patient to lay for what can be an hour inside a constrained “tube,” which can be an exasperating process for some. The new equipment cuts the required time to 30 minutes.

GE is also sending trained technicians and engineers to service Temple’s equipment and help with the transition. Data will also be feasible to send and viewed at other hospitals.

“The idea would be to work with a company that would share some of the financial risks and help us develop more cost-effective and efficient processes. … It’s a shared-risk model,” said TUHS’ Chief Operating Officer Verdi DiSesa, who is also a vice dean in Temple’s School of Medicine.

The process began last year as Temple reached out to different medical companies.

“We recognized the need to upgrade our imaging equipment across the system,” Kaiser said. “We put out a request for proposals to several vendors who are the major players in the industry … but ultimately settling on GE, and they seemed to be most interested in the type of collaborative relationship that we were looking for.”

Through meetings and planning with Temple Health staff and GE’s team of technicians, both teams still meet and plan combinations for the economic success and betterment of their patients.

“It’s really the first step in seven years of hard work and over the seven years of several [million] in saving,” Belden said.

Maryvic Perez can be reached at maryvic.perez@temple.edu.

CORRECTION: In a version of this story that ran in print Sept. 8, the article stated the contract would save a “guaranteed” $39 million. The $39 million is an estimate, not an exact figure.  

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