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How smart technology can lead to healthier lives



Knowledge empowers. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we understand, and the more we are able to make positive changes for a healthier life. When collated and analyzed correctly, data tells us the truth. It tells how our diet may affect longevity, how our environment can impact health, how our immunity from disease can be improved by relatively simple lifestyle changes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) tells us that premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory conditions can be prevented by more intelligent health systems, alongside initiatives to tackle risk factors such as poor diet and inactivity.
Currently, more than 36 million people die every year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs)[1]. But we are starting to leverage the power of data to significantly reduce that number. Already, good work has been undertaken through the World Economic Forum’s Healthy Living initiative, which brings together relevant leaders from business, government and civil society, helping to enable people to lead healthier lives – I am privileged to represent Philips in this group. But if we are to reduce NCDs further and become a society focused on preventing illness rather than simply treating it, then we must stimulate individuals to take even more personal responsibility.

People know what’s good for them, but find it difficult to change their daily routines – technology can enable them to do so. Currently there are around 100,000 health applications that people can download on their mobile device, which measure physical activity and provide health-related advice.


The data amassed from wearable technology is one way that consumers can harness the power of data. It can show them where they are going wrong, encourage them to be less sedentary; basically, hold a mirror up to their lifestyle so that it becomes easier to instigate positive behavioral changes.


However, field research from Philips suggests that to truly create behavioral change, technology must monitor activity over a long period of time and work harder to motivate people. One way of doing this is to use data compiled from digital tools so that coaches can intervene when motivation is waning. Commitment to changing one’s life is not enough – encouragement, often from professionals, is needed too.


One example is our collaboration with WeightWatchers to create ActiveLink. This is a personalized web-based health and weight-loss program that goes beyond calculating calories burned through activity – it analyses data, creates achievable goals and carefully monitors an individual’s performance, providing motivation and mentoring from a virtual coach.


We expect 50 billion connected devices in the world by 2020 – this will have an impact across almost every single industry, creating completely new consumer experiences. Philips will play a leading role in creating meaningful digital propositions and services, inspiring people to drive positive change in their lives.


[1] Source: Global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013-2020, World Health Organization, 2013.

Pieter Nota

Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Consumer Lifestyle

Born in the Netherlands, Pieter Nota joined Philips in 2010. He started his career at Unilever in 1990, where he held several senior management positions before becoming Marketing Director in 2005.


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