Bangalore: In a move to tap into and innovate for the rural market,GE Healthcare, the $17 billion (Rs78,880 crore) health care business of General Electric Co., announced on Friday collaborative initiatives with hospitals and Grameen Health—an affiliate of Nobel prize-winning microfinance organization Grameen Bank in Bangladesh—to build sustainable and replicable health care delivery models.

Going rural: Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh. The bank’s affiliate Grameen Healthcare is going to partner with GE Healthcare to tap India’s rural market. Hemant Mishra / Mint

“We are aiming to locally manufacture 25% of the products used in India, up from 10% of current level of manufacturing, within five years" said V. Raja, president and chief executive of GE Healthcare India. Besides smaller equipment, GE is considering to manufacture low-end CT scanners and surgical C-arms, both for India and exports.

CT scan is an imaging technique that uses X-rays and computer analysis to provide a picture of body tissues and structures. Surgical C-arms are used for minimally invasive and intra-operative procedures.

With Manipal Heart Institute, GE has begun mobile cardiac screening programmes in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to screen people who earlier did not show cardiac disease symptoms. In association with Vivus group of hospitals, GE has created the country’s first mobile cardiac treatment facility now operational in Mandya, Kolar, Hassan and Tumkur in Karnataka. As the initiative matures, more procedures and centres will be added, said S.S. Ramesh, founder and managing director of Vivus Hospitals.

The partnership with Grameen Health is to test new business models in health care, first in Bangladesh and later in other parts of the world, primarily using ultrasound technology.

The medical equipment maker, with $500 million in revenue, has signed an imaging service delivery pact with five government teaching hospitals in Gujarat. The government provides space; GE brings the technology and external radiologists to provide services to patients, teachers, and students.

GE expects the rural initiative to start feeding into its product innovation within 6-10 months. “I think more than product, its service innovation that we are looking at," said R. Basil, managing director and chief executive, Manipal Health Systems.