“As an independent global healthcare business, we will have greater flexibility to pursue future growth opportunities, react quickly to changes in the industry and invest in innovation.”
– Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, on its advantages as a standalone company.
The Imaging Wire
GE to Spin off Healthcare
GE plans to spin off its healthcare division. The spin off announcement, which came with the news that GE will also sell its multibillion-dollar stake in Baker Hughes, represents CEO John Flannery’s greatest step towards streamlining the company and alleviating its cash flow and debt problems. Within the next 12 to 18 months, GE will spin off a 20% stake in GE Healthcare into a new publicly traded company, divesting the rest of its holdings to GE shareholders as a tax-free dividend, creating the new and independent healthcare company. GE Healthcare will continue to be led by president and CEO Kieran Murphy and “will conduct business as usual throughout this process.”
Flannery maintained that GE Healthcare would fare better as a separate company, able to “strengthen its market-leading positions and enhance its ability to invest for the future.” Given GE’s ongoing financial challenges and its uncertain path forward, it’s hard to disagree with this statement. GE Healthcare will almost certainly be stronger as an independent (but still massive) company, able to invest in its own growth without the headwinds created by its parent company’s financial challenges.
Although GE will certainly miss the contributions of its healthcare division, this move was likely necessary to correct its current financial struggles and begin its comeback. People have been piling-on the conglomerate for quite some time, but GE is a great company with an amazing history that made some bad decisions, compounded by bad timing. Because of that, a Flannery-led turnaround feels like something to root for, even if the healthcare division won’t be involved by the time it’s finished.
Fujifilm’s Print Drama
“Gross mismanagement. . . clear lack of good faith. . . simply delusional . . .” Those were a few of the highlights from Xerox CEO John Visentin’s unbelievable public letter to Fujifilm Chairman and CEO Shigetaka Komori after Fujifilm’s lawsuit against Xerox was rejected. The now-failed lawsuit argued that Xerox’s board didn’t have the right to abandon Fujifilm’s acquisition of Xerox and as a result, Xerox owed Fujifilm $1 billion in damages. Visentin also threatened to dissolve Xerox and Fuji Xerox’s OEM relationship and to break their territory agreement by expanding to Asia (the two core parts of the Xerox/FX alliance). This may seem to have very little to do with medical imaging, but the dissolution of the Xerox/FX alliance and its expected financial impact on Fuji Xerox would pose a serious challenge to the overall health of Fujifilm. This is why: Fuji Xerox is Fujifilm’s largest division, Xerox is FX’s largest customer and a 25% owner, and Xerox and FX may not be able survive without each other.
GE Overhauls Molecular Imaging Lineup
GE Healthcare rolled-out a new range of molecular imaging systems and software this week, bringing a new configuration of its Discovery MI PET/CT scanner, five new NM800 series SPECT/CT systems, and its new Emory Cardiac Toolbox software. The new five-ring Discovery MI PET/CT system (prev. available in 3 & 4 rings) leverages high-sensitivity (21 cps/kBq) for 3x faster scanning speeds or one-third the radiopharmaceutical dose, while offering improvements to volumetric resolution, small lesion detection, and time-of-flight (TOF) sensitivity. The new NM 800 series includes the NM 830 hybrid-upgradable SPECT system (with enhanced sensitivity), the NM/CT 850 for low dose attenuation correction and localization (with improved small lesion detection), the NM/CT 860 (similar to NM/CT850 but can be used as standalone CT), the digital-ready NM/CT 870 DR (with image quality and comfort improvements), and the NM/CT 870 CZT (a new CZT design for increased sensitivity). GE’s Emory Cardiac Toolbox with Syntermed Live is a new nuclear cardiology imaging solution that supports remote reading and reporting from nearly any computer system.
- On Monday, GE sold its industrial engines unit to PE firm Advent for $3.25 billion, following the sale of its railroad division for $11 billion last month, and more notably coming a day before GE announced plans to spin off GE Healthcare and sell its multibillion-dollar stake in Baker Hughes. Needless to say, the industrial engines sale seemed like a bigger deal on Monday.
- The Wall Street Journal detailed the potential impacts of the China Tariffs on medical imaging with a specific look at GE’s US MRI manufacturing operations. The article revealed that nearly 20% of GE’s MRI component costs from China, the company is exploring ways to source components from other countries (won’t happen soon), and GE faces greater challenges because it owns many of its Chinese component factories.
- IHS Markit reported that the global handheld ultrasound revenue grew 17% in 2017 and will maintain a 13% CAGR from 2017 to 2022, driven by the popularity of quick point-of-care exams and the systems’ mobility and low costs. GE, Philips, Siemens, and Fujifilm Sonosite led the handheld market in 2017, respectively, but each of these top four players lost share, apparently to Analogic and handheld startups like Clarius and Butterfly Network.
- University of Cambridge researchers developed a new joint space mapping (JSM) algorithm that analyzes CT images for arthritis detection and monitoring by identifying changes in the space between bones – suggesting that JSM could be an alternative to 2D radiology for arthritis due to its greater sensitivity and lower reliance on human interpretation.
- Signify Research reports that medical image analysis AI companies have raised $522 million in capital investments, including $284 million since the start of Q4 2017 (18 deals in the period), as a wave of regulation clearances and later-stage funding rounds brought increased investments. However, early-stage funding for medical imaging AI appears to be slowing down.
- Zetta Medical Technologies announced the FDA clearance of its ZOOM MRI software algorithm, which supports image quality enhancement and image optimization of short scanning techniques, supporting all MRI brands and models.
- Advanced Ultrasound Electronics partnered with Sonostar to offer the company’s handheld wireless ultrasound probes in the US.
- The White House’s proposed federal government overhaul would (among other things) split and significantly downsize the FDA, transferring all food-related FDA employees to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, removing roughly $1.3 billion from the FDA budget, and relabeling it the “Federal Drug Agency.”
- FluoroPharma Medical acquired an exclusive option to license Ground Fluor Pharmaceuticals’ meta-Fluorobenzylguanidine (MFBG) imaging agent, isotope Fluorine-18. The agent is used with PETs for the assessment of neuronal integrity and could help diagnose various cancers and some cardiovascular diseases.
- Sectra expanded its VNA installation at Portugal’s Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa (IPO Lisboa) to support digital pathology in addition to radiology, allowing the hospital’s pathologists to access images from any workstation and integrate images into diagnostic workflows.
The Resource Wire
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- Agfa whitepaper on augmented intelligence and intelligent workflows
- Analogic’s BK Ultrasound bkSpecto urology ultrasound system combines image quality, speed, usability, and small footprint
- Canon Aquilion Precision, the world’s first Ultra-High Resolution CT system
- Caresteam touts benefits of weight bearing CT imaging
- Fujifilm’s FDR AQRO mobile x-ray combines high sensitivity with small size and low-dos
- GE’s Every woman. Every body. Every town. roadshow brings the company’s breast health technologies and message to centers across the country.
- Hitachi white paper on the business benefits of high-field MRI.
- Hologic’s 3Dimension Mammography System leads with 3D imaging and patient comfort.
- IBM Watson Imaging Clinical Review cognitive data review tool for more accurate patient records.
- Konica Minolta publishes latest Kontours issue.
- Philips’ new HealthSuite Insights AI platform curates and analyzes healthcare data and offers tools to build and operate AI-based solutions.
- Samsung’s RS85A premium ultrasound combines image quality with advanced ergonomics
- Shimaduz MobileDaRt Evolution MX8 premium mobile x-ray
- Siemens’ new Somatom Go CTs add cardiac and image-guided capabilities