Speech Rijksmuseum event "The Digital Age", September 4, 2012, Frans van Houten

Spoken word takes precedence

September 4, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,


I am delighted to be here today in the Rijksmuseum to share my thoughts with you about the opportunities generated by the digitization of healthcare.


In the Dutch Golden Age, around 300 to 400 years ago, beginning to understand the inner workings of the human body was a true innovation. And for centuries thereafter, the ‘analog’ way to treat disease was to physically open up the patient so that the physician could see the disease with his own eyes and treat it with his own hands.¹



This all started to change with the emergence of analog medical imaging technologies. Thanks to our expertise and innovation in developing vacuum tubes, Philips was a pioneer in diagnostic X-Ray imaging in the early 1900s. And innovation remains at the core of what we do at Philips today.


In recent years, continuous innovation has rapidly moved us from analog to digital: in consumer electronics, in lighting, and in healthcare. In consumer electronics, think of digital audio, digital TV, smart phones, and of course the internet.


In lighting, think of the transformation from incandescent light bulbs and compact fluorescents to LED-based digital lighting. As you can probably imagine, we are extremely proud to collaborate with the Rijksmuseum in applying our digital technology to shed light on the world-famous masterpieces displayed here in Amsterdam.


It is therefore logical that we transform Healthcare from analog to digital as well. And once again, Philips is one of the driving forces behind this process.



It is amazing how current digital imaging technologies have enabled doctors to non-invasively see inside the human body - visualizing its organs and blood vessels. Today, I want to inspire you by looking at the potential that the ‘digital age’ brings in the delivery of healthcare worldwide - the way it makes clinicians more productive, contributes to better patient outcomes and improves the efficiency of healthcare systems.



Early detection of diseases, so that they can be treated in their early stages, is not only better for patients; it is also more cost effective for the healthcare system.


One example of how digitization simplifies healthcare and increases accessibility can be found in the largest and most complex digitized initiative within the Dutch healthcare system. Each year, as part of the Netherland’s national breast cancer screening program, mammograms are performed on around 900,000 women. Digital technology has improved the quality of these images and made it easier to share them, making it easier to detect abnormalities at an earlier stage in the disease.



Today, the digital images from different types of scanner can be processed, combined and presented to doctors in real time. For example, instead of having to perform open heart surgery, damaged heart valves can now be replaced with catheters via a small incision in the patient’s skin under the guidance of imaging equipment. This new technique enables faster procedures with less patient trauma and better patient outcomes.



The Leiden University Medical Center and the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam have started doing advanced research into new treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease – a disease that today is incurable. This has partly been enabled by a new Philips digital MRI scanner that can visualize the blood flow from the heart, through the aorta and the carotid arteries and into the brain, in a single imaging procedure, which is crucial for this type of research.



We support doctors wherever they are. Digital technology makes nurses more productive, allowing fewer nurses to support more patients. Patient monitoring helps proactively analyze and detect adverse patient conditions, immediately alerting nurses when a patient’s condition deteriorates.



After the patient has returned home, remote monitoring solutions can provide continuous care. For example, Philips’ fall detector solutions can help seniors to remain in their own homes and live independently. Thanks to digital technologies, many things are possible today that were not possible in the past.



In the future, people will live longer, but many will still be living with chronic conditions such as heart failure and diabetes. It means that healthcare costs will continue to rise. In fact, there may not even be enough doctors and nurses to take care of the sick. The only way forward is to make healthcare more productive and efficient. Digital Technologies enable the transformation of the healthcare system and Philips is determined to drive that transformation.
We look forward to continuing to accelerate healthcare innovation and to playing a role in new partnerships, new innovations and new solutions.


The Golden Age in Healthcare, enabled by digital innovation, is now. Thank you.


¹ Reference: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rhijn, 1632 – located in the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague