Building a futuristic healthcare ecosystem

Building a futuristic healthcare ecosystem
Arjen Radder, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Middle East and Turkey

With a legacy of over a century in consumer care and innovation, Philips is now building a Health Continuum that is changing the way you deal with diseases and its treatment.



By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

Published: Thu 12 May 2016, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Thu 12 May 2016, 6:58 PM

The healthcare industry is rapidly changing, and has witnessed a number of important challenges, which includes a fast growing population that will contribute to the increase in obesity and rise of chronic illnesses. The underlying element remains to develop an innovative healthcare approach that delivers more value not just to caregivers, but also to patients' well-being.
Philips combines human insights and clinical expertise, aiming to improve patient outcomes while lowering the burden on the healthcare system. They believe advanced healthcare solutions are a fundamental part of the portfolio for both healthcare professionals and consumers to meet the needs of patients in hospitals and at home.
Technology on the other hand has become an important component to shaping the healthcare industry. Today we see the rise of smart solutions that are designed to improve the overall health, environment and productivity. People are accepting technology in their lives by the usage of wearables. Advances in such technologies are also giving rise to personal health devices that monitor patient heart rates, sleeping patterns, calories intake or exercise regime.
Philips has a unique vision: it views health as a continuum of care from prevention by leading a healthy lifestyle to diagnosis and early detection to qualitative and efficient treatment, to aftercare at home.
"We believe we can combine consumer insights and clinical knowledge into something that we call a Health Continuum, which is very much about health and healthcare," says Arjen Radder, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Middle East and Turkey.
Until a few years ago, self-operating devices and a centralised databank containing critical health information seemed more like figments of imagination of sci-fi novels or movies. Philips has transformed what was once perceived as sci-fi into life with its legacy of 125 years, and is turning possibilities into reality.
As global health systems are shifting towards models that focus on more efficient and effective care, the role of the individual is becoming even more crucial. Until recently, the medical professional has held the power in healthcare; the current approach to diagnosis and treatment is based on the training and experience of clinicians. Today, thanks to the digital revolution and the rise of the Internet of Things, the power is shifting into the hands of the individual.
Philips is enabling people to live healthier lives by using interconnected devices to receive more personalised and evidence-based care. Further, it believes there is a need to re-engineer healthcare systems from being geared towards treating sickness and managing diseases once they've taken hold, towards preventing illnesses by prolonging health.

Preventive care and diagnostics
Philips has a number of products in its portfolio that promote preventive care. Popular ones include:
Watch: This is one of the first wearables from Philips, and should not be confused with the likes of smartwatches from telecom giants. The simple yet important function of this gadget is to collate data pertinent to your health, such as blood pressure and heart rate.
"It is very interesting when you combine data that the doctor knows about you and you know about yourself in your everyday life. Such personal health programmes help keep those New Year's resolutions going. It is very important to measure and then monitor your health vitals for a longer time to stay motivated and fit," says Radder.
The device allows two-way conversation and leads to predictive diagnostics. Philips plans to introduce this in the UAE early next year.
Mini-Care: Diagnosis in the least possible time is crucial to save lives and implement the right treatment. Considering the high-risk population in the UAE that suffers from cardiovascular problems, Philips has introduced Mini-Care at this year's Arab Health exhibition. The device notifies patients if they are having a heart attack - almost 10 times faster than the current practice.
"You can do a simple analysis by taking a drop of blood, if you feel are having a heart attack. Within a couple of minutes you will know if you have an issue and need any immediate treatment," says the CEO.
Digital pathology: Another path-breaking introduction in the region is digital pathology. Traditionally it takes a few days to over a week to get results for various tests. However, with digital pathology, Philips has made the process more modern and faster. "We have digitalised the image that can be uploaded to a cloud-based system. So in practice not only can you access the image, but also the doctor present in any country. This means you can easily opt for a second opinion if desired," informs Radder.
Such innovative measures not only make recordkeeping easy, but also address the issue of shortage of medical staff, and in turn expedite the process of diagnosis and subsequent treatment. "Pathologists need not be physically present and can conduct tests remotely as well. We can connect data and medical staff to predict diagnostics to help you arrive at the right treatment," adds Radder.
Toothbrush: We all know the importance of oral hygiene and most of us were taught from an early age to brush our teeth twice a day. Philips has taken a step forward to introduce a special electronic toothbrush for children connected to an app that guides them on how to properly brush their teeth. Through an interactive display app, it is transforming brushing of teeth into an exciting fun time every day!
Consumerisation and industrialisation of healthcare
It is interesting how numbers and algorithms are changing the way we deal with health issues. Through collating data and processing it into meaningful information, Philips is planning to address the challenges of increasing lifestyle diseases and disorders.
"It is important that diagnosis and treatment are targeted towards value-based outcomes. There is a lot that we can do with data, algorithms and predictive diagnostics. However, people are more interested in the results. Our challenge is to see how we can drive outcomes to provide healthcare at lower costs," says Radder.
To understand the pioneering work that Philips has done in this sphere, let us look at some of the prevalent diseases. Globally, a large population is prone to acute illnesses. People are living with lung diseases, diabetes, chronic heart problems, etc. without knowing it. To address this population, Philips has introduced systems that can monitor and treat patients at home. "Our goal is not to admit people into a hospital all the time, but to stabilise people so that there is no need for hospitalisation. This is possible and relatively simple, and that is why we have the five pillars that guide our strategy and way of thinking: healthy living, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and home care."
Philips successfully combines its long-standing experience in the consumer industry with the innovative and pioneering process it has built in the healthcare. "We are different because of our experience in healthcare and consumer business. We are certainly among the few that are actually trying to connect the dots and we see benefit in doing so. Our goal is to touch three billion lives a year by 2025," says Radder, who believes the future is all about connectivity and IT-enabled solutions.
Philips has leapfrogged by introducing everyday products like the Air Fryer and Sonicare oral devices that enable people to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
"We have to look at the telehealth scene from a broader context. Our recent study shows evidence that GCC countries are keen adopters of telehealth," says Radder.
The GCC leads the Middle East in terms of telehealth enabling environments. E-health and telehealth strategies have government support in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, which have invested in initiatives to integrate telehealth with wider reforms.
The countries in the GCC are also developing regional harmonisation initiatives, which is evident in discussions about a "smart card" digital ID that would include people's health information, which proponents hope will be interoperable across the region.
"Philips is committed to supporting professional development through a number of partnership programmes with hospitals and universities. For example, we provide application training as well as clinical competencies to more than 2,000 healthcare professionals a year across the region both in hospitals and in our dedicated learning centres in Beirut, Dubai, Istanbul and Riyadh, with the aim of improving hospital as well as patient outcomes," informs the CEO.
Philips has tied up with the Ministry of Health in the UAE to centralise data and use technology for processing information and getting accurate diagnosis and outcomes faster. For now, the system is installed only at four hospitals, but the plans are afoot to cover more institutions.
Philips is committed to deliver solutions that span the health continuum from living a healthy lifestyle to hospital to supporting care at home. They are dedicated to helping people maintain their health outside the doctor's office, and help providers make better-informed decisions for their patients.
Philips brings together clinical breadth and depth of expertise, technology and services, actionable data, consultative new business models and partnerships that deliver meaningful solutions. They bring their global vision to meet the needs of the region.
- suneeti@khaleejtimes.com


More news from Health