Philips’ Simona Comandè ranked among top 100 most successful Italian women
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General Manager of Philips Italy, Israel and Greece recognized by Forbes Italia
Highlighting qualities including proven leadership skills, the ability to interpret their role in business or society, and their vision for the future, Forbes Italia has named 100 women who represent the best of Italy in 2019. Simona Comandè, General Manager of Philips Italy, Israel & Greece is ranked as one of this impressive group of women. Simona is a key contributor to Philips’ business transformation and enhanced customer focus. Here she discusses what drove her to pursue a career in health technology and how she approaches the challenges of the future.
After training as a chemical engineer, you focused your career on healthcare. Why did you choose this field, and what attracted you to Philips?
SC: Even before I trained as an engineer, I was interested in how scientific knowledge and most innovative technology could be used to help people live healthy lives, so right from the outset of my career I was naturally attracted by the healthcare sector. I was impressed by Philips’ vision of improving the lives of 3 billion people a year, but what really clinched it for me was listening to a speech by Philips’ CEO Frans van Houten about transforming the business, not just with a bold vision but also a clear strategy and concrete execution to achieve it.
How are people’s expectations of healthcare changing?
SC: Global resource constraints are driving a shift to value-based healthcare – a system that aims to increase access to care and improve patient outcomes at lower cost. Two important aspects of that are the aging population and the rise of chronic illnesses such as heart and respiratory disease. It means shifting more care to lower-cost networked settings and people’s homes. At the same time, increased consumer engagement in personal health is creating opportunities for greater focus on healthy living and prevention. It’s the digitalization of healthcare delivery that is making much of this possible. Philips’ latest Future Health Index report revealed that around 88% of healthcare professionals in Italy already use digital health technology or mobile health apps. These trends are fundamentally disrupting the landscape for health technology, challenging the way we deliver value to the healthcare providers, clinicians, governments and consumers.
Philips is increasingly becoming a solutions provider for its customers. How is this transition playing out in Italy?
SC: In the clinical space we are focusing on delivering integrated solutions – packaged suites of systems, smart devices, software and services that we put together with our partners and customers to solve a particular problem. It can be challenging to introduce solutions in the Italian healthcare market, since it is a mainly publicly-funded and high-regulated environment and at an early stage in terms of understanding the value of such an approach. We are already making headway in delivering solutions in the country’s private sector. A great example of this is our long-term partnership with the San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome to introduce state-of-the-art Family Centered Care (FCC). Our biggest goal is to create solutions that are so solid, effective and impactful that can become true game-changers in the market and, in this way, help us in actively addressing the challenges that healthcare providers are facing, helping to improve patient outcomes and productivity.
What are the biggest challenges that healthcare providers in Italy need to overcome in the coming years?
SC: It is well known that Italy has one of the world’s largest aging populations, second only to Japan, which means that chronic disease management is becoming a critical issue. Twenty-four million people in Italy –around 40% of the population – suffer from one or more chronic conditions, with around 1.5 million taking more than 10 different medicines a day. Therapy compliance, especially in the over 65s, is a big issue. Add the fact that 2 million Italians give up on medical examinations because waiting lists are too long, and 4 million miss out on specialist examinations because they lack financial resources, and you begin to realize how big the challenges are.
One example of how we’re tackling these challenges is our partnership with Pfizer and Politecnico di Milano to promote the use of digital health models and tools, especially tele-monitoring solutions, in order to improve therapy adherence and appropriateness by ensuring continuity and better quality homecare for chronic disease patients. A 90-patient pilot study increased therapy compliance to 98.8% and achieved high satisfaction scores from both patients and healthcare professionals, so the partners are already rolling out the program to new geographies and therapeutic areas. It’s a typical example of how Philips is helping to build end-to-end solutions that improve people’s lives.