NPR: Looking Abroad For Lessons In Health Care

April 9, 2010 –

A few months ago, GE Healthcare rolled out a portable electrocardiogram machine, trumpeting the new product’s ability to help patients wherever they might need it.

But the most interesting thing about the MAC 800 is not where it can go, but where it came from: China.

Chinese engineers funded by GE Healthcare helped develop the machine for sale in China. Although initially tailored to local needs, the MAC 800 has found a new market – the United States, where hospitals with community programs can easily take it on the road to treat patients.

The company is betting that other products originally created for the developing world ultimately also can be useful here. GE is tapping into the increasingly popular idea that medical innovation should be a global two-way street in which the West benefits from the resourcefulness and frugality poorer nations apply to health problems.

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