AMEinfo had the following interview with Vincenzo Ventricelli, Chief Executive Officer – Middle East & Turkey at Philips, who explains how digital transformation is enabling a more value-based healthcare system.
What are the trends driving innovation in healthcare?
Healthcare technology is constantly innovating and evolving in response to universal challenges. There are four key high-level trends driving the healthcare industry. Global resource constraints drive the need to reduce cost, increase access, and improve outcomes. At the same time, aging populations across the globe and the rise of chronic conditions shift care to lower-cost settings and the home. In parallel, more and more people are looking for new ways to proactively monitor and manage their health, and the digitalization of healthcare is shifting value from devices to software and services. These four trends have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This all translates into a clear need for a value-based healthcare system built around achieving the promise of the quadruple aim: better health outcomes; improved patient and consumer experiences; better staff experiences; and lower cost of care. Upcoming innovations need to address these points.
For example, Philips’ tele-ICU (intensive care unit) is an innovation that contributes towards the quadruple aim. The ICU is the most complex and expensive part of a hospital and is often plagued with resource constraints.
Philips’s tele-ICU solution brings critical care to the bedside regardless of where the intensivist is located. Enabled by a command center, the eICU connects a network of ICUs in different hospitals, with one central hub of specialists. This approach combines audio-visual technology, predictive analytics, and data visualization so that the same level of care is delivered across multiple sites while the burden on staff is reduced. We have studies showing that this approach decreases mortality rates and lowers cost of care.
What are the other major avenues to explore?
Data is an area of critical importance in healthcare. Massive amounts of data are generated every single day, from every single patient and every medical device they interact with. Big data is however meaningless if it cannot be combined, analyzed, and used as a basis for decision-making. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) can help. AI and associated algorithms can generate initial insights from the mass of information, to help clinicians prioritize cases, make diagnoses, and decide on the treatment. AI is especially useful in repetitive and standardized operations, taking away some of the more mundane and administrative tasks. This enables physicians to optimize their time and optimally use their expertise.
Another area of innovation is interoperability. Digitization creates many opportunities for hospitals to engage in virtual and seamless information sharing. This is key because there was little to no communication between different hospitals before. We can now create solutions, workflows, and protocols supported by digital platforms that collect all of the patient data and smoothly bring it to the clinician in the same hospital or in a remote hospital, at the touch of a button.
How well does design thinking apply to innovation in healthcare?
Design thinking can help a lot in the patient experience and therefore, implicitly, in the staff experience. For example, MRI scans are quite critical. It’s a long and unpleasant experience, and the patient has to be extremely relaxed to make sure that the scan is taken correctly the first time.
So, Philips’s team has developed an ambient experience that is completely designed to make sure that the patient is feeling as calm as possible. Implemented in over 1,250 sites around the world, it is based on years of design research and collaboration, incorporating dynamic lighting, projection, and sound providing positive distractions for patients as well as recommendations for effective staff workflow, storage, and organizational considerations within the facility. The portfolio of solutions contributes to a positive, engaging environment to benefit quality of care.
Another aspect is not in the physical experience, but goes beyond into the digital one, specifically in the workflow of the hospital to become more productive and reduce the administrative burdens placed on healthcare professionals. And on the interoperability level, an increasing number of governments and private institutions are no longer looking only at the right equipment, but at how the clinical workflow around this equipment is optimized in a patient-centric and cost-effective way.
What are the challenges specific to healthcare when looking at innovation?
Healthcare is an extremely critical and extremely regulated industry, and rightfully so – we are talking about saving lives. So, in some ways, it is quite slow to change and innovate. It can sometimes take years of research and development to bring an innovation to market. In addition, healthcare is a complex ecosystem, with many stakeholders – from clinical experts and CIOs to hospital owners. Clinicians expect the best clinical outcomes, CIOs look at interoperability, CEOs focus on both bringing quality care and managing the costs of the organization. When innovating, you try to meet all of their needs.
How is Philips itself transforming and adapting to this new environment?
As a leading health technology company, our purpose is to improve the health and wellbeing of two billion people a year by 2025. Philips focuses its research and innovation strengths on addressing significant global challenges and unmet needs. We are a technology company that cares about people. We listen, discover, and challenge to deliver meaningful innovation to people with one consistent belief – there’s always a way to make life better.
All our innovation and all our thinking for the past few years have had to pass through the gate of the quadruple aim. In fact, Philips is leading in providing solutions across the ‘health continuum.’ We start with healthy living and prevention, precision diagnosis, and personalized treatment, through to care in the home – where the cycle to healthy living begins again. We like to visualize healthcare as a continuum since it suggests the notion of continuous care. This continuum is what is driving our strategy and all of its elements need to be enabled digitally.
We continue to maintain a high level of investment in R&D, with a strong focus on software and data science, and we now apply the quadruple aim as a guide in all our development choices, so that our innovations have maximum impact and are fully scalable. Of course, we will continue to deliver cutting-edge equipment, but we will differentiate ourselves by our ability to complement this equipment with software that will ensure it is connected, future-proof, enabled to share data, and therefore creates the value that customers, partners, and society are looking for.