The information systems and patient monitors developed by GE Healthcare have also helped provide effective treatment to COVID-19 patients in intensive care units and hospitals. The information system developed in Kuopio reduces the workload of clinicians and delivers insight into the patient’s status.
GE Healthcare Finland Oy is a subsidiary of GE Healthcare, one of the world’s largest health technology companies. The headquarters of the Finnish subsidiary are located in Helsinki, but the company also has a branch in Kuopio specializing in intensive care information systems.
The need to develop intensive care information systems stemmed from the customers in the 1980s. Kuopio University Hospital (KUH) needed to transition from paper filing to an electronic system. M.D. and Docent Aarno Kari and CEO of Clinisoft Oy Arne Nyberg joined forces in the early 1990s to develop an information system for KUH that would automatically collect data from monitoring and treatment devices and the laboratory. The development process gave rise to Clinisoft Oy, which was later sold to Instrumentarium and then to GE Healthcare.
“The system created as a result of the collaboration in Kuopio still forms the basis for Centricity Critical Care, GE’s information system that is used across the globe. It has since been joined by a next generation clinical information system, Centricity High Acuity, which caters to the needs of anaesthesia and recovery care, in addition to intensive care”, says Application Specialist Hanna Kröger from the Kuopio branch of GE.
The company’s offices in Helsinki focus on developing and manufacturing patient monitors. GE aims to deliver safe, high-quality devices and information systems to meet its customers’ needs. Listening to the customers and understanding their needs is of vital importance to the company.
When the original information system was under development, the close proximity of KUH, the development partner, was a major advantage. However, it was obvious from the start that the end product would be designed to meet the broader needs of the global market.
“We have been able to retain the system development operations in Kuopio partly because of the availability of competent labour from the information technology disciplines of the University of Eastern Finland and Savonia University of Applied Sciences. The expertise of clinicians working at KUH has also been valuable when developing the systems, although cooperation these days is often done with customers around the world”, says Product Development Manager Minna Granqvist.
The basic principle of information systems designed for intensive care and anaesthesia is that data should be displayed as visually as possible and in a way that is easy to understand. The data that is sent by devices connected to the information systems and recorded by nursing staff is assembled and visualized in various ways to gain a better insight into the patient’s current status and its development. This helps improve the safety and timeliness of care.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shown that there is a need for our work. Intensive care units around the world have been full, and we have supported the work of healthcare staff with our systems. This has made our work even more meaningful”, says Granqvist.
The users of GE’s information systems that support intensive care and anaesthesia are mainly located in Europe. According to Kröger, in recent years the company has been planning to take on a more global role.
“We aim to help deliver good care in intensive care units and elsewhere in hospitals also outside Europe, such as in India and Latin America.”
Already back 30 years ago, the founders of the original Clinisoft thought big and did not settle for a system that would work only in their familiar environment. From the start, they considered ways to take it further.
“It is important that companies and employees are open to new opportunities, expansion and development. The opportunity to learn continuously and make new discoveries is a big motivator”, says Taija Reijonen, Senior Communications Leader of GE Healthcare in the Nordics.
Due to its cutting-edge research and competence, Kuopio is one of the most important Finnish hubs of expertise in the global health industry. The health sector in Kuopio is centred around the open innovation ecosystem KuopioHealth – an innovation network that brings together the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, the city of Kuopio and dozens of businesses. KuopioHealth promotes development, research and innovations that stem from the needs of customers and serves as a platform for new products and services.
Text: Minna Akiola / English editing: Satu Heikkinen