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The Future of Healthcare

Caroline Clarke, CEO of Philips ASEAN & Pacific, on digital health technology and health tools suited to the Philippines

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By REGINA POSADAS 

DARE TO GO DIGITAL Caroline Clarke aims to promote more advanced digital healthcare in the Philippines

DARE TO GO DIGITAL Caroline Clarke aims to promote more advanced digital healthcare in the Philippines

On the issue of insufficient data sharing between doctors and patients:
It’s a missed opportunity if we’re not encouraging people to measure their own data and share that data with a medical professional. Because if you combine and share that data, the individual can understand the data better and the professional can then use that data together with the patient to improve their health and particularly in prevention as well.

On which countries are excelling in healthcare right now:
Every country has a different thing we can learn from. If we look at the latest Future Health Index report, and particularly digital, we see Singapore is reasonably good at telehealth (using telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver health care outside of traditional healthcare facilities) and particularly good at electronic health records and personal health records. But if we take a step back and look at emerging markets, Saudi Arabia and China are ahead. In Philips, we use a phrase called adaptive technology. It’s the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, but also leveraging the clinical and contextual know-how of the medical professional. So it doesn’t ever replace the medical professional. It just enhances and helps, both from an efficiency and accuracy perspective. That’s where Saudi Arabia and China are ahead. Of all the investment in the world in AI, 60 percent of it is done in China.

On how emerging markets like the Philippines can improve their healthcare system:
I think it’s very important for emerging countries to have a digital roadmap. If you look at the Philippines and how many islands you have, how many remote areas you have, the challenge is to be able to bring healthcare to more people in an efficient way. Telehealth and the use of telehealth in consultations would be a very good example for the Philippines where you can have a consultation with somebody in Manila while you may be far away in an island.

Saudi Arabia uses telehealth much more effectively than anywhere else in the world and there are lessons to be learned there. Thirty-eight percent of individuals in Saudi Arabia state that if they had a choice, they would prefer a consultation with a doctor remotely via digital for non-urgent care than having to physically go to the doctor. Not having to travel is a much more efficient use of their time. In some countries too, people prefer to have a remote consultation about things that are quite personal. It’s also much better for the resources of the healthcare professional if it’s for non-urgent care because then you can connect the individual to the right level of healthcare. It might be that they don’t need to see the most senior doctor in the practice, and that they can just see a nurse so you can match them. I think this would be effective in the Philippines and is something the country could leverage.

On the cost-efficiency of going digital and how it’s changing traditional healthcare:
Indeed, it is cost-efficient; much more efficient because it enables more patients. They’re not in the hospital on a regular basis because they have the know-how to take care of their own risk factors. In hospitals, emergency admissions and mortality rates are reduced because people are taking better care of themselves and doctors can predict who to treat first. But also in every country, there’s a lack of resources. Whether the cardiologist, the radiologist, or the GPs, there is not enough resources, particularly where you have remote regions. The most senior clinical experts tend to be all in concentrated city areas. So you can leverage their expertise by using telehealth or by facilitating collection of data with AI. Medical experts can also use the collective wisdom around the world of data to come up with algorithms that would lead to a much better diagnosis and enable precision medicine.

Digital models are extremely important for this. As we look to build hospitals in the future, like in Manila, we don’t think of just the hospital in the same way we’ve done before like how many more beds you can squeeze in, but we look at a digital hospital and how we can improve the efficiencies and resources within the hospital using AI, improved workflows, or automation while also making sure people understand their own data at home to prevent them from having to go to the hospital or if they have an intervention, allow them to go home as soon as possible because they can be remotely monitored at home.

In Philips, we believe our mission is to bring healthcare to more people around the world and to improve billions of lives through innovation. But it also requires companies like ours, governments, providers, and insurance companies to work together. No one can do it alone. We need to work together to build these new models of care.”

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