masthead blog future of health l

Oct 02, 2019

The skills people need to help define the future of health

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

The healthcare workforce will play a crucial role in defining the future of health. Hear from Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader Personal Health, on the skills people need to help drive the transformation of healthcare.

I’m excited every day to witness and be a part of the changes happening in consumer health. Big data analytics, AI, mobile health devices, wearables and cloud technologies are playing the biggest part. Together, they’re improving the care people receive and helping people make better informed decisions about their health.

Prevention requires empowerment

With one in three adults around the world suffering from multiple chronic conditions, and health systems under increasing pressure to cope, enabling people to take control of their own health to reduce their chances of developing an illnesses has never been more important. 


The healthcare workforce will play a crucial role in helping consumers on this journey — and in driving the industry’s transformation at the speed that is needed. At Philips, we work every day to help shape the future of health, which we believe starts in people’s own hands.


But helping people live healthier lives can only happen if people feel empowered and supported to make better lifestyle choices. This is where the healthcare workforce needs to understand the broader context and higher purpose of the solutions they develop and services they deliver: why would someone use a health app or wearable device? How can they best support us all to live healthier lives? Why are they important to healthcare delivery?

Everybody and everything should be data driven 

While there’s clearly a strong business case for organizations to invest in digitally-savvy talent to develop intelligent software-based solutions, the conversation is no longer about digital versus non-digital. In today’s data-driven world there is no distinction between the two. Regardless of whether we work in marketing, sales, innovation, finance or HR, everything is data-driven. Data is the oil in the machine of today, and we all need to connect to it. Saying this, the value of the ‘softer’ or ‘human’ skills in helping people change their behaviors — and in our ability to adapt our skills and behaviors to the changes we’re seeing — has never been greater.

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Both technical and adaptive skills are needed

With these thoughts in mind, I believe the workforce of today requires a combination of two key skills: technical and adaptive. By technical skills I mean the key competencies that will allow people to move with the changing digital landscape, such as the need to make hardware, software and services work as one. Across healthcare specifically, technical skills will be crucial to putting the control in consumers’ hands and ensuring their personal data flows safely and efficiently between them, healthcare providers and organizations.


Because the healthcare environment is changing so fast and digital technology is developing at great speed, people also need to be adaptable and continually develop their technical skills to keep up and stay relevant. This is where learning agility will become extremely important in the workforce’s ability to grow, develop and move with the industry’s changing context and consumers’ changing demands. 

It requires social intelligence too

To truly reach consumers’ hearts and minds and help them make the right choices to protect their health, innovators will also need to tap into their social intelligence to understand the wider context of their work. What is their role in helping people live healthier lives and in moving the industry towards more personalized, preventative care?


I regularly ask myself: what is my role in helping consumers live well? If we only look at parts and pieces of our own line of work and not the wider context it will be hard for us to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, and to identify what should be done differently. The better understanding we have of the end goal, the better innovations we can come up with. 

Bringing personal health experience to the office

To view our health as a continuously evolving journey is a different way of thinking; most of us know that going to the dentist twice a year is important, yet many of us aren’t taking full advantage of the collective benefits that daily cleaning, flossing and digital tools such as teledentistry can bring in maintaining our long-term oral health. 


To help everyone on their journey towards better health, people in the healthcare industry will need to think outside of their individual contributions to the job they do. By recognizing that they too are ‘health consumers’, the better they will be able to innovate. Ultimately, the issues that affect the people they develop systems and services for touch them, their friends and family too. 

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Roy Jakobs

Roy Jakobs

CEO Philips

Roy Jakobs is the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Philips. As CEO, he is also Chairman of the Board of Management and the Executive Committee.
With his extensive global executive leadership experience, Roy drives Philips’ strategy to help deliver people-centered, high-quality care.
Click here to read more on Roy Jakobs

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