February 1, 2017


2017 is the year healthcare goes sci-fi (Jeroen Tas, 11 January 2017, World Economic Forum)

AI provides us with the opportunity to take major leaps in precision diagnosis and highly personalized treatment. We already have systems in production that can read and interpret large data sets of historic and current patient information from multiple sources. Information previously stored in silos, like studies, observations, tests, images and electronic medical records, can now be collated to become interoperable and understandable. AI can sift through thousands of academic papers in seconds. But what's more important, AI can help to deliver the right information at the right time within the right context - that of the individual patient. This helps to deliver first-time-right diagnoses on the way to more personalized treatment paths and reduce waste, all with the goal of improving outcomes.

There are now more opportunities for doctors to remotely support patients. We are already using AI-based interactive voice and video-based monitoring technologies to remotely track physical and mental health. AI is used as a helpful tool to get quicker diagnosis and treatment for cancer by interpreting medical images, finding bio-markers on cancer tissues and performing DNA-analysis.

With the large scale deployment of medical record systems and the use of monitoring technology, the amount of data that health organizations collect is growing at exponential speed. The potential in utilizing this wealth of information to improve outcomes has still not been fully exploited. We are lacking feedback loops to turn every healthcare encounter from a contribution to knowledge. For example, applying the risk factors of breast cancer to detailed patient profiles, including attributes like family history or, even better, genetic information, will help us create more personalized programmes. We can create increasingly fine-grained profiles and perform more personalized screening programmes, which will lead to better outcomes and reduced costs. Every woman's case will help us further improve screening, detection and treatment programmes.

Smart devices and wearables (even ingestibles and implantables) play a part in creating access to healthcare. These devices augment their users and continuously collect health and contextual data, allowing healthcare providers to monitor patients anywhere, leading to more pro-active, personalized healthcare. Eventually, this data and their context can trigger alerts if there is a change in a combination of vital signs, indicating an emergency. Remote monitoring means fewer readmissions, quicker responses to emergencies and more immediate care to avoid deterioration or adverse events, such as stroke or falls. From the many studies conducted in different parts of the world it has become clear that connected care delivers better patient care at substantially lower costs along the full health continuum.

And the possibilities don't just stop at AI and wearables. Philips coined the concept of ambient intelligence 15 years ago and now, with the Internet of Things, its time has come. Ambient intelligence refers to smart devices that are sensitive and responsive to their users and environment. Wireless technologies and smart environments will play a vital role in healthcare delivery by adapting to the needs of patients and giving the carers useful information on those patients.

Let me give you a potential use case: an elderly person at home wears a smart pendant which converses with her, reminds her of medication, prompts her to eat and tracks her movement. Lights automatically come up when she gets up at night. When deterioration is noticed she will be connected to the right carer. In the case of a fall, emergency care is triggered and an ambulance sent to her home. The paramedics have full access to her medical history and the patient monitor they carry automatically configures to her specifics. Information is then sent to the hospital, where care is prepared. She will be automatically registered and monitored upon arrival, ventilation devices will automatically adjust and capture her vitals.

Such technologies and approaches promote clinical quality and efficiency of care, while sustaining a patient's independence and quality of life. Many of these technologies are not years away, they are already being used by millions. We need to further scale these successful models.

This isn't something that just western economies benefit from: our Philips Future Health Index found that a third of less developed economies (30%) already feel more comfortable than almost half (49%) of their developed counterparts with using connected technologies, where patients can engage with care professionals in alternative ways. This is referred to as leapfrogging, where remote and infrequent access to healthcare leads populations to find new and highly innovative routes around the problem by leveraging ubiquitous mobile infrastructure. With these technologies already in the hands of those in need, this is a very achievable goal for the future and could have a sizable impact.

Posted by at February 1, 2017 5:16 PM