Oct 12, 2016

How technology is disrupting healthcare

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

Philips’ Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer, Jeroen Tas, reveals how Philips is at the forefront of a tech revolution to improve 3 billion lives a year by 2025.

Emerging tech innovations are transforming healthcare, opening the door to exciting new possibilities. But technology alone is not enough. Jeroen Tas highlights the need for an innovative vision to turn tech potential into real results and revolutionary improvements. And this is precisely what makes Philips a leading player in the industry. Innovation is in the company’s DNA, Jeroen explains:

"For the last 126 years, Philips has applied technology to create solutions that improve people's lives. We have moved from providing just products to delivering connected solutions that include hardware, software and services. We see the new wave of cloud, IoT and AI technologies as key ingredients for the solutions that our teams work on and that we bring to the market to provide better care for billions of people."

Jeroen Tas

The new connectivity

Connected care is the key to a whole new era of intelligent health services. “Today, typically the patient is the data aggregator and care coordinator. We are working with leading delivery networks like Banner Health [in the US] to create connected care solutions that give providers continuous insight in the needs of the patients that require support,” Jeroen says. Such are the expected benefits for patients, that Philips has set up a business groups focused on population health and home monitoring, as s well as connected sleep apnea and ventilation devices to pregnancy and parenting app called uGrow. “All these solutions aim at connecting patients and allowing providers to intervene at the right place and the right time,” Jeroen says.

 

This is a great leap forward. With connected care, patients are no longer on their own once they leave the hospital or doctor’s office, as care is brought into the home and incorporated into people’s everyday lives. Philips is currently working with hospitals to explore how connecting patients through e-health can deliver better care. Jeroen describes the added value:

“We see opportunities for supporting patients with chronic diseases like heart failure, COPD and diabetes and linking them to their hospital to provide around-the-clock care, as chronic disease impacts patients 24/7.”

The aim? To move away from our current, primarily reactive approach to healthcare: “We can look at better coordinating the care and being more proactive in the support of those patients to avoid deterioration and the need of acute care,” he says.

 

Developing world

Connected care also creates impactful opportunities for improved healthcare in the developing world, where rural communities may have limited access to modern facilities. “We already have solutions in place to connect to smaller clinics and hospitals and remotely monitor patients,” says Jeroen.
 

This approach is already making a difference in antenatal care in particular. “We are successfully running a women's pregnancy program in Indonesia and India in which we equip midwives with a smartphone and connected health devices, including a Doppler monitor, to get information on the mother and the fetus. The relevant data are uploaded to the cloud and shared with an OBGYN doctor to perform a diagnosis and if necessary prescribe treatment. Next to this we have recently opened a third Community Life Center providing primary care to a very remote area of Kenya that has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world. We use connected technologies to see if the remote facility’s energy, water supplies and medical equipment is up and running to ensure the center can provide health care to the community in a sustainable way

 

Both examples have resulted in much better  care for women and their babies,” says Jeroen. “We see the next big wave in applying AI and virtual care to provide an increase in access to care at low cost,” he continues.

Code to Care

Into the cloud

The shift of healthcare and patient data from multiple physical devices into the cloud brings a host of software and security challenges. New systems are needed to deal with these. “We started the HealthSuite initiative a couple of years back because we saw the need to create an information infrastructure for health solutions that allows us to create a trusted network of medical devices (IoMT) to ingest and make interoperable patient data from different sources, to be able to aggregate and analyze this data and lastly to orchestrate the workflows for care. This is a cloud-based platform that will be complemented with Edge processing,” Jeroen says.

 

The power of AI

AI is the technology driving much of the remote monitoring and virtual care. “What we use AI for is image analysis and pattern recognition in complex information,” Jeroen says. “We focus on providing patients, clinicians and care givers with the right information and tools to make decisions about health. This requires combining data from different systems and devices and processing that into actionable information. We use our deep clinical knowledge to create the right algorithms and leverage AI tools to enable the best care.”

 

Partnering with the best

To make use of the latest advances in technology, Philips works with leaders in the industry, such as Amazon, Qualcomm or Salesforce. In addition, solid partnerships are formed with many leading university medical centers and research institutes in the areas of R&D and clinical validation.
 

Such partnerships are vital, as Jeroen explains: “Creating solutions to address the big challenges of healthcare, like aging populations and the increase of chronic disease, requires strong collaborations between technology companies, care providers, payers and pharmaceutical companies. We set up collaboration labs to bring these key stakeholders together to shape new approaches to healthcare.”

Why good design is crucial

With medical monitoring technology increasingly being placed in the hands of the patient, design and usability are more important than ever. “Philips has a long history in usability and design of consumer technology. We are applying these capabilities to new healthcare solutions that increasingly involve active patient engagement,” Jeroen says. “We believe that the best solutions are developed with all key stakeholders involved and with strong understanding of the real user needs. We are applying 'design thinking' to the creation of these types of solutions.”

 

So often patient welfare tends to focus on the medical side of things; the human factors are forgotten. Jeroen stresses how important it is to keep these in mind: “The drivers for good health or control of disease are not only clinical but they are also social and behavioral. Bringing these aspects into the way we design solutions for elderly care or chronic disease management for instance, will lead to better efficacy of selected therapies.”

 

Innovation, talent, start-ups: shaping the future

These developments are just the beginning. The coming years will see technology further transform healthcare, redefining the roles of medical staff and patients in the process. Continuous innovation is what fuels these meaningful advances. As a pioneering company, seeking out fresh sources of innovation is integral to business: “Philips supports open innovation. We are active in the venture world and have also set up our own internal venturing capabilities,” Jeroen says.

“As we see new solutions increasingly built on ecosystems, connecting with promising start-ups in relevant areas is an integral part of our innovation strategy.”

Same goes for Talent: “We look for digital talent with a real passion for innovation, coming to Philips to bring new ideas along with their technical skills in digital technologies, people who dare to be entrepreneurial and pioneering, both attributes at the foundation of our company”.

 

He goes on to explain how the entire business model behind healthcare is changing: “We see a gradual move to value-based care transitioning from a fee-for-service system. We also see the emergence of population health and more consumer-centric approaches and an increased need for care teams to collaborate.” So, what does this mean? “All of this points to a solutions-focused approach supported by as-a-service business models,” says Jeroen. “This requires a different approach from traditional technology providers and we will see growth of services in this space.”

About Innovation Matters

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries.

 

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Innovation matters team

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization.