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The big healthcare power shift: from provider to patient

How Philips Personal Health Solutions are empowering the individual



People tend to have their favorite healthcare providers. One might fit your personality better than another. There is one commonality, however, among most healthcare providers: they all want to help patients live healthier lives.

In the past, they could spend time with patients, get to know them and work with them on creating the necessary change in their lives toward a healthier and happier life. However, the recent crunch placed on the time of healthcare providers, along with the realization that lifestyle change is a fundamental factor in building a longer, healthier life, has limited the effectiveness of global healthcare as we know it. Industry partners have managed to collect health-related data in unprecedented ways, but healthcare providers have become inundated with data and are struggling to use them in effective ways to improve the health of their patients.

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But slowly, this is changing, and with the advancing power of medical innovation from companies like Philips, the power is transferring to where it belongs – the patient. True change toward a healthier lifestyle comes from one source: the patient.


It’s a shift that is overdue, welcome and completely imperative. Without it, the world simply cannot cope with the healthcare crises our ever-growing and ever-aging population inevitably brings with it.


In the US, the total cost of diabetes care hovers above $245 billion, and in the UK, the health effects of inactivity lead to annual costs of £6.5 billion. Across the world, chronic illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, already account for 38 million deaths a year, and across Europe, 42% of deaths are from cardiovascular disease.


This is not a list of numbers that makes for good reading.


Luckily though, there is one statistic that, on closer inspection, is not quite so grim: 90% of these could have been prevented with the right lifestyle changes.

This is where Philips’ new personal health programs come in. We know that an at-risk patient making the right lifestyle changes – exercising more, eating better, quitting smoking - can be difficult. We know that, regardless of the pressure put on them by their physician, most bad habits are engrained, and most people do not like being told what to do.


With this in mind, Philips has taken an approach that limits how much we talk at a patient, and favors an approach of talk with them.


Our health measurement devices gather information from a multitude of data points (activity monitoring, heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking, for example), and we work out with the user what it all means, and what we can do about it, together.

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Say someone at risk of heart disease is not losing weight. It would be easy to assume his or her diet or exercise plan is to blame. But by closely monitoring and analyzing the data, and keeping up on the latest scientific literature, we might see that poor sleep patterns are actually a factor to consider. We can then create a new personalized sleep plan in response.


We do not stop there, however. Personal health programs are not one big gesture, and then no follow-up.


It takes some time for a bad habit to be broken and a good habit to take its place, so we stick around to ensure that this happens, on a schedule that is conducive to the patient. Programs like our Direct Life in the US carry on continuously monitoring data, and the moment the data show the user might be slipping, we intervene to get them back on track.


It is a pattern of intervention and guidance that is not only critical for patients at risk of chronic diseases. It is a pattern Philips has used for years to help manage chronic disease.


The Hospital to Home team’s exemplary Banner Health program in the US, focusing on the top 5% of patients who account for 50% of healthcare spend, has not only reduced costs of care by 27% and reduced hospitalizations by 45%, it has done something even greater – it has increased the patients’ quality of life.


Ralph and Helen McCurdy both live with a number of chronic conditions, but thanks to Banner iCare and Philips, they do not need to be in the hospital or traveling for constant specialist check-ups. They can take and log their own blood pressure, check and log their own weight, have video appointments with their doctor (who has viewed their data through a cloud-based system) and they can continue living at home, together, like they have done for their 64 years of marriage.


Which brings us back to where we started.


The medical and software innovations behind Philips Personal Health Solutions are revolutionizing the future for healthcare providers, ensuring they will not be broken under the oncoming financial and resource storm.


But they are also revolutionizing the future of the individual, ensuring they are empowered to live their lives to the fullest.


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Caroline Clarke

CEO Philips Personal Health Solutions

Caroline joined Royal Philips in November 2008 as CEO Personal Care. Caroline was responsible for the global Personal Care business for 5 years until January 2014. Since then, Caroline has been working on the creation of a new business proposition for Philips, Personal Health Solutions. This new business area is at the core of Philips Strategy to deliver health technology innovation along the Health Continuum, in this case, with a focus on healthy living and disease prevention.


Caroline holds a bachelor's degree in Business Studies. She is a graduate of Harvard Business School Advanced Management Programme.


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