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A 'cornerstone' in health innovations

By Hao Nan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-27 07:40

A 'cornerstone' in health innovations

Philips, based in the Netherlands, is implementing a strategy to expand its healthcare and consumer lifestyle business called HealthTech by increasing investment in technological innovations. Provided to China Daily

Philips signs deal with Beijing hospital to apply company's personal management system

Philips recently signed an agreement with the Peking University First Hospital to put the company's new personal health management system into practical use.

The Dutch technology giant considered the initiative major "pragmatic progress" in its efforts to provide innovative healthcare solutions over the years.

The system includes a smartphone app for Chinese cardiovascular patients to help them with better transition from hospitals to their homes.

The app reminds patients to take their medication, tracks major vital signs and offers recovery plans and suggestions for a healthy lifestyle. With two interfaces for doctors and patients, the app also allows for real-time connections between the two.

The hospital identified 200 cardiovascular patients to be managed by the system and 100 patients as a control group. During the process, actual feedback and user experiences will be collected and processed to better serve both doctors and patients with post-acute and chronic care management.

According to the 2014 China Report on Cardiovascular Diseases, about 290 million Chinese people suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

"Co-creation is a very important key word during the system's development process. Doctors, nurses and patients are all parts of this innovation. We see it as a start to further explore the use of medical information to help realize remote medical treatment and health management and thus to ease the pressure on the current medical system," said Patrick Kung, CEO of Philips Greater China.

A 'cornerstone' in health innovations

Kung said the goal was not to merely create a health management system for cardiovascular disease, but to build an ecosystem of medical informatization, one of Philips' long-term visions.

"We want to play a cornerstone role in the ecosystem," he said.

'Brave decision'

In an effort to fulfill its vision, Philips announced last year it would split off its lighting business to expand its healthcare and consumer divisions, which will fall under one umbrella company called HealthTech.

Philips' global CEO Frans van Houten said the move was a "brave decision" as Philips "enters its second stage of youth".

Royal Philips will be dedicated to HealthTech, which will focus on its market share estimated at over 100 billion euros ($110.3 billion) of the global healthcare market.

"Combining the strengths of our healthcare and consumer lifestyle businesses, HealthTech will play a crucial role in the entire health continuum, from healthy living to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and homecare to make the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation," van Houten said.

In 2014, Philips served 190 million patients worldwide with its monitor products, and provided imaging diagnoses for up to 970 million patients in emerging markets.

"Our goal is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025," he added.

Products, solutions and services from HealthTech will be connected on the company's cloud-based digital platform.

"Like other industries, the health industry also has a vast amount of valuable data which could reshape and optimize the industry's future if they were collected, compared, analyzed and used via cloud computing, big data and other Internet technologies and tools," van Houten said.

In China, Philips began working with the Chinese Society of Cardiology to help build the China National Cardiovascular Data Repository three years ago.

It will also work on other databases in the future to help provide smarter and inexpensive healthcare solutions to help the country reduce its growing health expenditures and address chronic diseases caused by an aging population and rapid urbanization.

China has become an important focus of Philips' global business strategy in recent years. It is now the company's second-largest market worldwide.

"China is playing an increasingly important role in the world economy," Kung said.

"Being successful in China not only means being the leader in the regional market, but it also enables Philips to take advantage of its competitive strengths in other markets globally," he said.

Philips is building China into one of its key innovation and operation hubs in the world.

The company currently has over 2,200 engineers in China and invests more than 110 million euros for research and development annually. Philips Research China, for example, which was established in 2000, is Philips' second-largest R&D institute globally.

China: home market

Philips defined China as a home market in 2010 in addition to the Netherlands.

"It was a very forward-looking decision, breaking through the traditional way many multinational companies regard China, as simply a big manufacturing base and sales market," Kung said.

As the first step of the company's home market strategy, Philips relocated its global headquarters for its Business Group of Domestic Appliances to Shanghai in 2011.

BGDA is dedicated to healthcare innovations in China to meet the demands of local consumers looking for cleaner air, safer foods and healthy eating habits.

Philips values "localized innovation" to deliver more "meaningful creations" to improve people's lives in China, Kung said.

Working with the Chinese research teams, BGDA has introduced a number of local innovations, including soy milk makers, noodle makers and bread makers. Some of the products have been exported to foreign countries after undergoing modifications.

"The Chinese market is large enough to sustain these products. But a more ideal practice is that we create a technical platform which could not only be applied in China, but also in the global markets to produce larger benefits," Kung said.

"We want to transform from 'innovation for China' into 'innovation in or from China'," he added.

The company has also built an end-to-end business model that covers every link of the product operation, from market research to design, procurement, production and sales.

To encourage open innovation, the company has partnerships with universities, hospitals and research institutes worldwide to better apply its technologies to new products and services.

The cooperation with the Peking University First Hospital "perfectly matches" the spirit of open innovation, the company said.

The company has also carried out a Brain Bridge Program since 2005 with Zhejiang University and Eindhoven University of Technology to build a collaboration platform for scientific research and talent exchanges between Philips and the universities.

Focusing on the Philips' strategy of continuous health solutions and services, the three have set up 15 projects over the past decade, published more than 70 academic papers and nurtured over 20 graduates with doctorates and master's degrees, with a budget of 2 million euros.

(China Daily 10/27/2015 page8)

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