Alongside these developments, more responsibility is being shouldered by governments and insurers who must meet the higher expectations and demands of their customers. And they do so in an age when people are living longer and costs – especially for managing chronic diseases such as heart problems, diabetes and cancer – are inexorably rising.
Instead of simply treating the sick, we need to engineer a recalibration of the entire system. Patients need to be proactively encouraged – and enabled – to manage and improve their own healthcare, whilst professionals are freed up to treat more patients, more effectively.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is to create a connected healthcare world in which medics on different continents can, at the swipe of a tablet or use of a mobile app, share information with each other.
A world where data-enriched devices worn by consumers can alert doctors and nurses to their patients’ vital signs without having to meet them face-to-face in hospital.
A world where enormous amounts of consumer data from disparate sources – protected by sophisticated privacy encryption systems – are linked together to create intricately detailed insights into our health that will benefit generations to come.
Philips is proving itself a pioneer in this kind of healthcare. For instance, we have digitally enabled remote African and Asian clinics that are suffering high infant mortality rates to link with advanced pre-natal units in Europe to analyse foetal scans and spot potential problems at an early stage. We’ve allowed specialists on opposite sides of the globe to share prostate cancer biopsies to deliberate more effectively what treatment to take.
Such digital innovations also herald a new era of personalized care in which big data, integrated into medical records, allows professionals to construct unique and detailed treatment plans that won’t always require hospitalization – and if they do, that stay may not be as drawn out as it currently is.