Interview with Dr. George Uduku 

General Manager, GE Healthcare, West Africa 

George is a medical doctor and business leader in medical devices with extensive experience in strategy, new market entry, project development and sales management. He is currently, General Manager, GE Healthcare, West Africa. In this role, he is responsible for driving a coherent commercial strategy across the GE healthcare businesses in West Africa and optimizing the use of commercial / service resources in achieving GE's goal to help deliver sustainable and accessible integrated patient care across the region. Outside work, George has a passion for contemporary architecture, electric vehicles and jazz.

Tell us about your focus areas and presence in the healthcare industry of West Africa. 

GE HealthCare is a global leader in medical technology, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and digital solutions. With a legacy spanning over 100 years, we are dedicated to providing integrated solutions, services, and data analytics to make hospitals more efficient, clinicians more effective, therapies more precise, and patients healthier. GE HealthCare is advancing personalized, connected, and compassionate care, while simplifying the patient’s journey across the care pathway. GE HealthCare's presence in West Africa is a testament to its commitment to improving healthcare outcomes in the region. The company has been actively engaged in Nigeria via a direct organization since 2014, contributing to both the public and private sectors. With a dedicated team of around 80 employees, GE HealthCare is working tirelessly to overcome healthcare challenges and push the boundaries of what's possible in healthcare delivery.

Our comprehensive portfolio, including Imaging, Ultrasound, Patient Care Solutions, and Pharmaceutical Diagnostics, empowers healthcare professionals to provide better care at every stage of the patient journey – from diagnosis to therapy to monitoring. Our aim is to create a region where healthcare knows no limits, where cutting-edge technology and a patient-centered approach converge to transform healthcare delivery.

Based on your observation and expertise, share your thoughts on healthcare in West Africa and highlight some of the recent developments. What role does your organisation play in this context?

Healthcare in West Africa has experienced significant progress in recent years, marked by both achievements and ongoing challenges. One notable development is the region's successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborative efforts among governments, healthcare organizations, and communities have showcased the resilience and adaptability of the healthcare sector in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Additionally, a noteworthy advancement has been the establishment of world-class hospitals over the past year. This marks a pivotal shift towards enhancing the healthcare infrastructure and capabilities in the region. These hospitals not only contribute to improved patient care but also serve as hubs for medical innovation, research, and knowledge dissemination.

Furthermore, the expansion of clinical services into previously unavailable domains is another commendable stride. The introduction of services like open-heart surgeries, renal transplants, and radiotherapy services reflects the commitment of healthcare providers to meet the diverse needs of the population. This expansion not only saves lives but also reduces the need for medical travel outside the region.

GE HealthCare plays a pivotal role in shaping the healthcare landscape of the region. We are dedicated to driving innovation, technology adoption, and capacity building in healthcare. Through cutting-edge medical equipment, software solutions, and training initiatives, we are empowering healthcare providers to deliver high-quality and accessible care to their communities.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we collaborated closely with healthcare institutions to provide essential medical equipment, such as ventilators and diagnostic tools, helping to bolster the region's preparedness and response capabilities. Our role extends beyond equipment provision; we aim to be a knowledge hub, organizing workshops, seminars, and knowledge-sharing platforms to upskill healthcare professionals and keep them abreast of the latest advancements in medical science and technology.

In alignment with recent developments, our organization has contributed to the establishment of world-class hospitals by equipping them with state-of-the-art medical technology. Furthermore, our commitment to expanding clinical services is reflected in our support for training programs that enable local medical teams to perform complex procedures such as open-heart surgeries and renal transplants, thereby reducing the need for patients to seek treatment abroad.

However, we recognize that challenges persist, including underinvestment in healthcare infrastructure and health insurance coverage, as well as the issue of brain drain among clinical workers. Our organization remains dedicated to collaborating with governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to address these challenges holistically.

Please identify some areas of opportunity, training, and education in the healthcare industry aligned with your business/medical activities.

Digital transformation is reshaping the healthcare industry, and presents a paradigm shift for healthcare workers and administrators. Training and education play a crucial role in ensuring that we fully exploit the benefits of digital transformation. Here are some specific areas of opportunity, training, and education that align with our business activities in GE Healthcare West Africa:

1. Digital Literacy and Technology Proficiency: Developing a comprehensive training program that enhances the digital literacy of healthcare professionals is essential. This includes providing training on using medical software, electronic health records (EHRs), and other digital tools effectively and efficiently.

2. Data Analytics and Informatics: Healthcare professionals need to be skilled in analyzing and interpreting the vast amount of data generated in modern healthcare systems. Offering training in data analytics, data-driven decision-making, and health informatics equips them to derive meaningful insights from patient data.

3. Ethical Use of Data: With the increased reliance on digital data, understanding the ethical considerations surrounding patient data privacy, security, and consent is vital. Training programs can focus on ethical guidelines, regulatory compliance, and best practices for handling sensitive health information.

4. Telemedicine and Virtual Care: The adoption of telemedicine and virtual care has accelerated due to the pandemic. Training programs should guide healthcare workers in providing remote consultations, understanding the technical aspects of telehealth platforms, and maintaining the quality of care in virtual settings.

5. Patient Engagement and Education: Healthcare professionals can benefit from training in effectively engaging and educating patients through digital channels. This includes communication skills tailored for virtual interactions, as well as strategies for empowering patients to take an active role in managing their health.

6. Legal and Regulatory Considerations: Digital transformation introduces new legal and regulatory challenges. Offering training on laws related to telehealth, data protection, and medical technology ensures that healthcare professionals navigate these complexities confidently.  

Please highlight some of your partnerships, achievements, and business goals for the next 12 months.

We are proud of the milestones we have achieved in advancing healthcare in West Africa. We have provided critical medical equipment, training, and support during this challenging time, reinforcing our role as a trusted partner especially in times of crisis. Furthermore, our commitment to innovation has led to the development of advanced digital solutions. These solutions leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning, such as the AI/ML Apps and Digital Expert platforms, to enhance diagnostics, treatment planning, and patient outcomes. The launch of Imaging 360 AirREconDL showcases our dedication to pushing the boundaries of medical imaging technology.

Our overarching goal for the next 12 months is to continue shaping the future of healthcare in West Africa through strategic initiatives. We are committed to:

1. Strengthening Partnerships: We aim to deepen our collaboration with governments and key stakeholders. By aligning our efforts with national healthcare agendas, we can more effectively address challenges and drive sustainable improvements.

2. Digital Transformation Leadership: We are poised to lead an ecosystem of partners in delivering innovative digital solutions for our customers. Our advanced digital offerings, including AI/ML Apps, Digital Expert, and Imaging 360 AirREconDL, will revolutionize diagnostics, treatment planning, and patient care.

3. Clinical Pathway Excellence: Our focus on Oncology and Cardiology care pathways reflects our commitment to addressing critical healthcare needs. By enhancing our offerings in these areas, we will contribute to improved patient outcomes and more effective disease management.

4. Safety and Well-being: Ensuring the safety of our employees, customers, and patients remains a paramount priority. We will continue to uphold the highest safety standards in all our interactions and operations.

5. Inclusive Workplace: We are dedicated to fostering an inclusive workplace that celebrates diversity and equity. Our principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion will guide our internal culture, creating a great place to work for all.

As we look ahead, these goals underscore our unwavering commitment to advancing Healthcare, embracing innovation, and creating a positive impact on the lives of people throughout West Africa. We are excited about the journey ahead and the positive changes we can bring to the healthcare landscape.

What are you looking forward to the most at Medic West Africa 2023, and what can attendees expect to see? 

The Medic West Africa congress presents a unique platform for meaningful interactions and progress within the healthcare sector. This congress offers a dynamic 3-day program that brings together our valued customers, esteemed partners, and crucial government stakeholders. This convergence of stakeholders provides an invaluable opportunity to engage in essential dialogues aimed at propelling the healthcare sector forward.

Attendees can expect a vibrant and insightful experience at the congress. Our primary focus is to foster collaborative discussions that address key challenges and opportunities within the healthcare landscape. By sharing insights, best practices, and innovative approaches, we aim to collectively shape the future of healthcare delivery in the region.

One of the highlights of the event is the unveiling of our latest innovations. This year, we are excited to showcase advancements in two critical areas: ultrasounds and patient monitoring. Our innovative ultrasound technologies promise to enhance diagnostic accuracy and patient care. Additionally, our latest patient monitoring solutions will contribute to more efficient and effective healthcare delivery.

Beyond the innovative technologies on display, Medic West Africa is an occasion to strengthen relationships and explore avenues for collaboration. Our team is looking forward to engaging with attendees on a personal level, understanding their needs, and tailoring solutions to address their unique challenges.

Anything else you would like to add? 

As we continue to navigate the evolving healthcare landscape in the region, our dedication to innovation, excellence, and meaningful partnerships will undoubtedly contribute significantly in advancing healthcare access and quality. We have a bold agenda for growing our impact in Nigeria. I’m excited about the path forward for GE HealthCare in West Africa and for the outcomes we will deliver for our customers in Nigeria.