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How a fascination for measurements can improve healthcare

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How a fascination for measurements can improve healthcare

'I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition.' 

 

This quote from Bill Gates touches the essence of the work of Jens Mühlsteff; as Value Stream Owner he is responsible for Philips' research in the field of measurement innovations. His work has been rewarded with the Gilles Holst Award 2020 for his 'highly respected and recognized scientific work, thought leadership and contribution to Philips'.

A physicist in a medtech environment

Jens joined Philips 18 years ago in Aachen and later moved to Eindhoven to pursue a scientific career in the area of patient monitoring dealing with unobtrusive measurement technologies tailored to applications in- and outside hospital settings. 

 

Measuring never ceases to fascinate the award-winning researcher: "Perhaps it's because of my background as physicist. In physics, we try to capture the world in minimal abstract models during well-controlled boundary conditions. For a specific setting, you can repeat a certain process multiple times and still have the same outcome. For example, when you drop an apple from a tree, the time it takes to hit the ground is always the same." 

Accept uncertainties

"In the medical world, you need to accept uncertainties, because it's hard to build a model for monitoring patients that is so robust that it always fits in practice. That is a real challenge to be solved in close collaboration with medical experts and patients – we need to do our best to make sure that the way we monitor patients and measure vital signs is as accurate as possible. This ambition really motivates me."

 

In the medical world, you need to accept uncertainties, because it's hard to build a model for monitoring patients that is so robust that it always fits in practice.

In the medical world, you need to accept uncertainties, because it's hard to build a model for monitoring patients that is so robust that it always fits in practice.

Jens Mühlsteff

Value Stream Owner

Monitoring patients across the healthcare continuum

In close collaboration with the business, Jens and his team of 30 researchers devote a lot of effort into making monitoring systems, such as biosensors, suitable for new settings, such as patients' homes. "We see it as our mission to transform our monitoring and analytics offering so that it will add value to every part of our quadruple aim: from improved health outcomes to improved patient experience, improved staff satisfaction and lower cost of care. The technology that is already in use to monitor patients in hospitals need to be tailored for lower acuity settings and home applications. How can we make sure that patients are able and willing to work with this technology? This means, amongst other things, that we really need to make devices much more intuitive and comfortable to use."
Jens received the award from Henk van Houten, Chief Technology Officer at Philips.
Jens received the award from Henk van Houten, Chief Technology Officer at Philips.

Recognition from peers

The impact that Jens and his team made on Philips' business is rewarded with the Gilles Holst Award. The nomination came as a bit of surprise. "The fact that I got nominated by my colleagues is, to me, especially rewarding. It is a true honor to receive that kind of recognition from peers."

25th Gilles Holst Award

Since 1996, Philips honors top researchers with the award that is named after the founder and director of the Philips Natlab in Eindhoven. Jens received the award from Henk van Houten, Chief Technology Officer at Philips. 'In this role Jens has built a high performing team across Eindhoven and Cambridge (US), always looking for excellence' as he pointed out. 'His scientific work, thought leadership as well as tangible contributions to Philips are highly respected and recognized by Research and business colleagues.' On top of that, Jens co-authored over 50 publications and contributed to 43 patents. 
Dr. G.J. Noordergraaf, anesthesiologist at Elisabeth-TweeSteden Ziekenhuis, gave a speech during the award ceremony
Dr. G.J. Noordergraaf, anesthesiologist at Elisabeth-TweeSteden Ziekenhuis, gave a speech during the award ceremony

Firm believer in partnerships

Jens firmly believes that this output can only be achieved when researchers collaborate across organizational boundaries. He is a very active participant in the Eindhoven MedTech Innovation Center (e/MTIC) partnership, in which Philips closely collaborates with the University of Technology Eindhoven and three hospitals in and around Eindhoven. "We have always had several PhD students from e/MTIC. This simply allows us as a team to explore new territory that we would not be able to address in our daily work, mostly more risky topics with uncertain outcomes. For example, now we are working closely together with Catherina Hospital; thanks to the insights that we get from the hospital about the use of blood pressure cuffs we are able to optimize the design of this product. And that is just one example of many projects that we do together with e/MTIC participants."
We have always had several PhD students from e/MTIC. This simply allows us as a team to explore new territory that we would not be able to address in our daily work, mostly more risky topics with uncertain outcomes.

Jens Mühlsteff

Value Stream Owner

The ten commandments of Gilles Holst

It almost seems like a paradox: the structural collaboration with a technical university and hospitals allows Philips to perform research more freely. "Gilles Holst was right when he formulated his ten commandments", said Jens. "The secret to being successful in research is to give people sufficient freedom, accept their idiosyncrasies. 

 

The freedom to choose what you work on has an enormous potential to motivate researchers, as long, of course, as it corresponds with the interest of the business, which needs to be the attitude within industrial research."

We can't do everything on our own, and frankly, we shouldn't want to do that. Standalone boxes are a thing of the past; we need to deliver on connecting care via integrated solutions.

Jens Mühlsteff

Value Stream Owner

Partnerships will grow in importance

Jens believes that partnerships like e/MTIC will only grow in importance. "The world is more complex and changing faster than ever in human history. At Philips we are a leader in patient monitoring, and we know that if we want to maintain that leadership position, we must partner to innovate. 

 

We can't do everything on our own, and frankly, we shouldn't want to do that. Standalone boxes are a thing of the past; we need to deliver on connecting care via integrated solutions."


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