Omar S. Ishrak: Creating Innovations, Enhancing Quality

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THE maternal mortality rate in Indonesia is currently the highest in the world at 300 deaths per 1,000 deliveries. One of the causes is almost no access in the regions and remote areas to USG equipment to detect any physical defects or abnormal condition in the fetus during pregnancy as such equipment is only available in large hospitals and modern clinics in the country’s major cities.

This situation has inspired multinational electronic company General Electric (GE) to develop the usage of mini USGs nationwide. The US$7,000 (about Rp 53 million) per unit gadget is only as large as a mobile phone.

“Apart from detecting physical defects of babies this device can also be used to detect a number of other internal diseases such as of the liver and heart,” said president and CEO of GE Healthcare System Omar S. Ishrak, 54, in Jakarta. Albeit small in size, Omar said, the mini USG is just as accurate as the larger one. “This gadget is suitable for doctors in remote areas,” he added.

Omar Ishrak feels proud because the division he leads manufactures this highly innovative product. And it seems that GE demands such creative innovation from Omar and his division. He has worked for the company for 14 years now.  According to Omar innovation is simply a must or a necessity for this legendary company. GE Healthcare always makes available the latest technology and medical service in creating a new era for patients’ care.

“Our extensive experience in medical imaging, information technology, medical diagnostic, patient monitoring system, pharmaceutical discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technology, performance enhancement and providing solutions to our consumers provide better care to more people in the whole world at a lower cost. We also collaborate with leading players in health care and strive to contribute our best efforts for changes in global policy required for sustainable health care,“ he explained.

GE Healthcare consists of Surgery, Healthcare Systems, Life Sciences, Medical Diagnostics, Healthcare IT and Performance Solutions. Healthcare Systems itself is a $12 billion division of GE Healthcare and includes development business and has the mission to develop innovative technology for better clinical performance and patient access in a global way.

Healthcare Systems, which is headed by Omar for the past two years is the largest division of GE Healthcare is comprised of various technology business including computerized tomography, magnetic resonance, ultrasonography, monitoring solutions, molecular imaging, X ray, interventional, life aid and other health related technology.

Indeed Healthcare Systems makes available a wide range of technology and services for doctors and healthcare administrators to assist medical professionals in improving their consistency, quality and efficiency for patients’ health care anywhere in the world.

All such technologies provide a quick and non-invasive method for doctors to see broken bones, diagnose traumatic cases in the emergency ward, to see the heart and check its function or identify the early stages of cancer and brain dysfunction. Using the X-ray technology, digital mamography, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance and molecular imaging, GE’s leading products enable doctors to see the internal organs more clearly than ever before.

The company also makes available other high-tech devices such as ultrasonography, ECG, densitometri for bones, patient monitoring, interventional imaging,, incubator and baby warmer, respiratory aid, anesthesia and so forth. “GE Healthcare Systems makes it possible for doctors to provide better health care for millions of patients worldwide every day including check up, latest diagnostic and aid in the emergency ward,“ said Omar.

Although only two years as president and CEO of GE Healthcare Systems Omar has given a strong foundation for the division he is leading now. Moreover, Omar, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from King’s College, London (1977) and a Ph.D in electrical engineering is indeed a familiar face at GE, therefore he understands the company‘s culture, tradition and management style.

His leadership and business expertise in technology is an important factor to position GE as a leading global provider of ultrasonography services. Under Omar‘s leadership the division has created various sustainable innovations and it has expanded to a wide range of new clinical applications and also has dramatically boosted its global distribution for a two digit growth annually since 1995.

In 1999 Omar was promoted to become officer and vice president of General Electric Company. He was appointed as President and CEO of Clinical Systems in January 2005 and has held the position of president and CEO of Healthcare Systems since January 2009.

Before joining GE Omar brought with him 14 years of experience in business management and technology development while having held a number of high ranking positions, such as senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing and Product Development at Elbit Ultrasound Group and various positions in product development and technical departments at Phillips Ultrasound.

According to Omar GE is innovation. The company‘s tradition of innovation has continued since the lamp innovator Thomas Alva Edison established the modest beginnings of GE in 1878 and the company‘s innovative products have had a huge impact on our lives.

Many of GE‘s innovations help us see the world better and more clearly, such as fluorescent lamp (neon), X-ray, Ultrasound and television broadcasting network as well as the radar that enables us to see up to 30 km even at night.

The company‘s innovations have continued in numerous fields. In the medical field, for example, GE has created V-scan, a revolutionary organ scanner as small as a cellular phone, so it is portable and practical to carry and use anywhere including in remote areas.

“At GE Healthcare we always try to understand life better. Based on our vision called healthymagination we invite the world to join us in our continuous efforts for developing innovations that reduce cost, expand access and enhance quality and efficiency in the whole world,“ said Omar who is also a member of the board at The Blood Center of Wisconsin as well as member of Health Management Board at Save the Children Foundation. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, May 14, 2011

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