Knowledge is power: how doctors can be at their best
Turning digital data and diagnostics into integrated workflows can help doctors who are strained to breaking point
Modern medicine is a celebration of human curiosity and ingenuity. The discovery of pathogens and genetics profoundly changed our understanding of disease. Imaging equipment like X-ray and CT have improved our ability to diagnose. And antibiotics, gene therapy and minimally invasive surgery have revolutionised treatments. Embedded in a system of hospitals and health insurance, these developments have given billions of people access to high-quality medical care.
However, the medical system in general, and doctors in particular, are under pressure. The need for medical care is growing exponentially because of ageing populations and an epidemic of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Healthcare costs are spiralling out of control, but patients expect more personalised care rather than long waiting times. And hospitals are finding that expensive equipment is simultaneously overbooked and underused.
Better care at lower costs
In a bid to alleviate an almost inhuman strain on doctors and enable hospitals to improve care at lower costs, the medical industry could take a cue from airports. There, a broad range of professionals work smoothly together to handle massive volumes of people, goods and airplanes while meeting the highest standards of safety and comfort. Key to this is their use of advanced data analytics delivered using scalable technology platforms.
How would this work in a hospital setting? One of the main elements is diagnostics. For the larger part of our 125-year existence, Philips has pioneered this field, from the introduction of a medical X-ray tube in 1916 to the launch of a 3D CT scanner in 2006. Our most recent milestone has been an oncology system that creates 3D density maps from MR images. Instead of needing both CT and MR, doctors can use MR only to plan radiation treatment of prostate cancer, resulting in simplified workflows and higher-quality care.
Data and genomics
Such cancer treatments, which rely on digital information as much as they do on radiation and toxic chemicals, epitomise the incredible potential of data. Advances in deep learning, which uses algorithms to make sense of huge amounts of data from imaging equipment and personal devices, allow doctors to better determine what their patients need. It also empowers hospitals to truly understand and optimise their own workflows.
Data becomes even more powerful when pooled, provided we safeguard patient privacy. Philips’equipment, for example, monitors an incredible 1 billion people in their homes every day and manages 18 petabytes of imaging data. If we correlate that with information about an individual’s DNA and data from personal devices, we could move towards predictive analytics. Knowing which patterns repeat over time allows hospitals to do things like optimise ICU staffing and more accurately plan emergency transport for seniors being monitored at home.
We also believe that genomics, which looks at how DNA functions within a single cell or organism, will play an increasingly important role in areas like cancer treatment. Philips, for example, is working on digital DNA diagnostic tools that can determine the genetic profile of an individual tumour. This means doctors can offer patients a treatment strategy that fits perfectly, minimising side effects and optimising healing. The more doctors know, the better they can help.
In addition to these innovations, more efficient and effective healthcare requires integration. Air traffic controllers make split-second decisions because they have real-time access to integrated data. Philips wants to empower doctors to do the same. Our eICU programme, for example, has increased the survival rate of ICU patients by 26% by combining audio-visual technology with predictive analytics and data visualization. And our IntelliSpace software suite gives doctors an integrated view of a patient’s data, so they can get the diagnosis right the first time.
Another aspect of integration relates to how care is delivered across the entire health continuum. Instead of working in isolation as is often the case now, doctors should work seamlessly to prevent illness, diagnose disease, treat patients and help people recover. Philips is developing technology that can tie together all the devices, equipment, hospital systems, insurer databases and other sources of data into a safe and easily accessed whole.
Philips is combining 125 years of medical and technological expertise to create a more effective and efficient medical system. One in which doctors can be at their best all the time, hospitals can work as smoothly as possible and individual people can live a long and graceful life. We intend to do this by using advanced data analytics delivered through scalable technology platforms that give doctors the power to know more and make better decisions.
VP and Head of Design, Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services & Personal Health Solutions at Philips
Abby Godee is the head of design for the Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services and Personal Health Solutions business groups at Philips. Prior to Philips, she spent more than 15 years consulting on innovation strategy, product design and digital service strategies, working across numerous industries such as health care, consumer products, energy and telecommunications.
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