GE Healthcare, VA partner to speed medical 3D printing
In the agreement, GE Healthcare will provide 3D imaging software and work stations while the VA will provide input on its use of the technology. Previously, the VA has used 3D software not designed for medical use; now it will use GE software specifically designed for the medical field, which is expected to reduce the time it takes to create 3D models from hours to minutes.
VA Puget Sound and the Veterans Health Administration Innovators Network will integrate GE Healthcare’s advanced visualization AW VolumeShare workstations with 3D printing software across its facilities in Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Salt Lake City. VA radiologists specializing in cardiology, oncology, orthopaedics, and other areas will use the technology and software to develop new 3D imaging approaches and techniques to deliver improved precision healthcare for the nation’s veterans.
“The Veterans Health Administration has been on the forefront of bringing 3D printing to the bedside,” says Beth Ripley, MD, PhD, VA Puget Sound radiologist, VA Innovation Specialist, and VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee chair. “And we are thrilled to join forces with GE Healthcare to enhance and accelerate its adoption.”
“For most radiologists, 3D images are limited to reconstructions on a computer screen,” says Ripley. “By harnessing the power of 3D printing with a rich data set, we are able to pull images out of the screen and into our hands, allowing us to interact with the data in a deeper way to fuel innovative, personalized care based on the unique needs of each of our patients.”
3D medical printing software designed exclusively for the medical community is still currently limited, says the organization, and software designed to allow manual preparation of image data into 3D printable files can be labor intensive, requiring hours of work. The use of GE Healthcare’s advanced visualization tool will enable VA radiologists to produce models of normal and pathological anatomy using automation techniques that will speed up the pre-3D printing preparation work and the diagnostic process.
Terri Bresenham, Chief Innovation Officer for GE Healthcare says, “We are delighted to partner with the Veterans Administration to accelerate 3D printing in healthcare. This partnership will result in significant innovation for the growing application of additive manufacturing in medicine while advancing GE Healthcare toward its mission to improve patient outcomes and enable precision healthcare.”
3D printing is primarily used to manufacture orthopedic implants and guide surgical cutting, and research on potential impact in patient care has expanded exponentially, say the organizations. Recent industry and regulatory advancements – such as the establishment of clinical guidelines, 3D printing reimbursement tracking codes, and the integration of technology and software – are all expected to support the widespread adoption of point-of-care 3D printing in hospitals.
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