As Digital Transformation Leader, Liat Ben-Zur is shaping the mashup of high-tech innovation and healthcare. Get ready, because this is just the beginning.
A female leader in the tech industry, Liat Ben-Zur has a string of formidable accomplishments to her name, including co-founding the AllSeen Alliance, a cross-industry consortium driving an open-source language for IoT. At Philips, she plays a key role in spearheading a new direction: driving connectivity and digital strategy across the company.
The move to Philips proved to be a meaningful one for Liat, adding an unexpected extra dimension to her career: “It’s an amazing opportunity to differentiate from typical Silicon Valley tech firms that are great innovators and know how to run fast, but struggle to build highly-secured solutions in highly-regulated medical environments.”
It’s an amazing opportunity to differentiate from typical Silicon Valley tech firms
The patient has the data
One crucial development that Liat sees for the future is continuous, unobtrusive monitoring. But that generates a lot of data. The question of what happens to that data is increasingly important in an age that is already seeing a surge in monitoring equipment and healthcare apps.
“Today, when you get blood work, or a CT scan, where does that data live? Or what about the data you collect on your latest sleep patterns or exercise routine? All this data lives in different silos, managed by different companies in different clouds, or worse yet, in different filing cabinets in different hospital systems.”
It is imperative that consumers own their data and decide how it should be used, Liat believes. To address this, Philips created the HealthSuite Digital Platform, which is of medical grade and compliant with the HIPAA standard for protecting sensitive patient data.
The platform ensures that people can control who sees which data and when. An ecosystem of connected products, programs and services, HealthSuite is designed to paint a picture of our wellbeing in a holistic way, from hospital data and images, to our IoT devices and wearables at home, creating a longitudinal record of our personal health. “This is something that every consumer should be demanding,” Liat says. HealthSuite is an open platform, as Philips believes in supporting innovation in healthcare and solutions that go far beyond the company itself.
Engagement is key
When it comes to putting new connected care solutions into people’s hands, patient engagement is vital, Liat stresses. “There is much to be said about patient experiences, understanding consumers and their unmet needs. And there is a huge need and opportunity to leverage data analytics and AI in these spaces to really move the needle on how companies, healthcare systems and people can engage with healthcare.” In this context, Liat is especially proud of Connect to Healthy, a new concept study by Philips powered by HealthSuite. It explores how the patient can really be placed at the center and in control by means of a personal health dashboard connecting the patient and the healthcare provider. In this way, patients become active participants in their own wellbeing.
IoT is everywhere
Connectivity in healthcare is becoming ever more prevalent and will continue to do so. Liat herself is living proof: “Ask my family, they’ll tell you that everything at my home is connected. From our speakers, to our cameras, to our lights, to our toothbrushes, kitchen appliances and coffee makers. Add all the wearables, from watches to rings to shoes and well… I have more data than I know what to do with! Frankly, I don’t think we’ve even touched the tip of the iceberg of real meaningful, life-changing IoT experiences are yet.”
I get energy from emerging technologies that can disrupt industries
Of course it stands to reason that she also uses connected solutions developed by Philips. She’s a big fan of the Sonicare for Kids toothbrush. “It’s completely changed my life at home with the kids. We used to struggle getting our children to brush their teeth. But with the help of the app’s Sparkly character, they are oral healthcare wizards and love brushing their teeth for the full two minutes instead of the usual ten seconds. It’s made a lasting impact.”
The app is currently focused on helping mothers after they give birth, but this type of platform could also come to be used for pregnant women, helping to identify risks and deliver personal coaching and guidance.
The great benefit of connectivity is that access to healthcare becomes less dependent on geographical location. “IoT and connected health can make a huge difference in developing countries,” Liat says. As part of a case study in Indonesia, Philips developed a telehealth platform for expectant mothers to access those in difficult-to-reach rural communities. As Liat points out, 96% of the world’s population has access to a cell phone, so telehealth is very promising.
“Within the first three months of introducing mobile obstetrical monitoring, the pilot project identified 60 out of 500 expectant mothers as having high-risk pregnancies. They were given treatment and care that they otherwise would not have received, thereby reducing unnecessary maternal and fetal mortality.”
AI and Ambient Intelligence
Not a day goes by without news of the latest AI developments hitting headlines. And clearly smart algorithms and ambient intelligence are also set to play a critical role in the future of healthcare, augmenting the role of professionals in the field, Liat believes. “It will help professionals handle the ever-increasing volume and complexity of data coming in; it will help them better diagnose and recognize trends right the first time; and hopefully, it will also help identify patterns and offer more accurate predictions before things happen. It will turn healthcare from reactive to proactive.”
It’s never about the tech – it’s what you do with it.
Make disruption meaningful
Imagine a connected tattoo that can change color on the skin based on hydration and blood sugar levels. Sound futuristic? It’s already here, and was developed by MIT. New technology can drive a whole new range of applications, but as Liat says, it’s important to remember: “It’s never about the tech – it’s what you do with it.” This is something she feels strongly about and is at the heart of Philips’ health-tech vision.
“Whether it’s IoT, AI, ambient intelligence, Blockchain, augmented reality, 3D printing, ingestibles, or next generation-technology breakthroughs in genomics, what matters is how companies use these innovations to create meaningful solutions that you and I and my mom and your dad might be able to use. How does it improve our lives?” For Liat, this is where the real disruption will happen. Bring it on.
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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.