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“Fully Aligned And Committed To Supporting The Success Of Ayushman Bharat”

Philips has a sizeable presence in the Indian healthcare industry across three major areas of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In a freewheeling chat with BW Healthcareworld, Rohit Sathe, President, Philips Healthcare India, talks about the Ayushman Bharat scheme, the role of technology in healthcare and the company’s vision for India, among other things. Excerpts from the conversation:

What are your views on the Ayushman Bharat scheme? How important a role will technology play to meet Ayushman Bharat’s vision? 

Ayushman Bharat is a powerful and hugely positive idea and we are fully aligned and committed to supporting its success. Given its scale, the programme has the ability to stimulate the economy and provide a new ecosystem in healthcare. As highlighted in India’s first Future Health Index report, commissioned by Philips, the gap between required and current growth of healthcare infrastructure and care-providing staff cannot be addressed in an incremental fashion. Latest technological advancements including artificial intelligence, cloud, blockchain, among others, can enable the healthcare industry to adopt disruptive technology-led service and business models. We can also look at scaling up our quality, accessibility and affordability while taking a winning leap forward to make India a global healthcare hub. 

The FHI report pointed to the readiness of the country to adopt technological solutions in healthcare. Please elaborate. 

In the FHI report, we determined the readiness of the country to address global health challenges and build sustainable, fit for purpose, national health systems. The data focused on the crucial role of technologies, access to healthcare services and efficiency of the healthcare system. Interestingly, the survey pointed to an increased awareness on the role of technologies in aiding healthcare delivery amongst health practitioners in India. Seven out of 10 were knowledgeable about connected care technologies and one out of seven said they are extremely knowledgeable. This readiness to adopt technology can be a key driver in delivering care. The healthcare industry in India is slowly adopting technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), which could enable the implementation of connected care solutions.

The FHI report also highlighted the challenges of healthcare delivery in tier-2 and tier-3 towns. What initiatives is Philips taking to address the same?

The FHI report listed out paucity of healthcare infrastructure and professionals, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities as a key problem. The only way we can make a difference is through adoption of technology in healthcare. Philips runs an ‘IntelliSafari’ awareness programme. The campaign aims to familiarise hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in non-metros with the latest technological advancements in healthcare, available at low cost. IntelliSafari was launched by Philips India in July 2012 and has reached several tier-2 and tier-3 cities across the country.

What is Philips’ vision for Indian healthcare? 

At Philips, we are striving to make the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation, with the goal of improving the lives of 3 billion people by 2025. India is a key international market for Philips and we remain committed to invest in and grow our footprint and partnerships, in both manufacturing and R&D, across our capabilities in three major areas of healthcare — prevention, diagnosis and treatment. We remain focused on improving healthcare in the country by developing quality health tech solutions that are affordable and accessible. Going forward, we aim to expand our strong positions across the health continuum, extend our solutions capability to address our customers’ unmet needs, and so deliver the full benefits of data-enabled connected care.

What has been Philips’ strategy to become a leading brand in the healthcare sector?

India is an important market for Philips. Our India strategy is anchored around catering to all our customers’ needs and driving a shift to value-based healthcare — a system that aims to increase access to care and improve patient outcomes while also raising cost productivity. This solid growth strategy has helped us in transforming Philips from being a product-driven company into a leader in health technology, focused on delivering innovation to help people manage their own health and support care providers in delivering care effectively and efficiently. With our understanding of many global long-term healthcare challenges, we see major opportunities to apply our innovative competencies in the areas of personal health, diagnosis, treatment, connected care and health informatics. We have always been driven by innovation to introduce meaningful solutions that enable access to affordable healthcare. In keeping with our global mission to improve the lives of three million people a year by 2025, we remain committed to address major healthcare challenges in the country.

How is Philips India using the public-private partnership model to provide healthcare services in the country?

Public-private partnerships (PPP) aided by technology can bring radical transformation in the country, making healthcare more accessible to the masses and boosting implementation of various government schemes. PPPs are a great way to create access, lower cost and bring healthcare to tier-2 and tier-3 cities in the country. In line with our commitment to providing high-quality yet affordable health tech solutions, we aim to mobilise investment funding to scale up the number of our PPP centres from the current 26 to total 40 operational centres by early 2019.  Moreover, we are committed to also increase the number of PPP centres that are using our technology from the present 85 to 120-plus next year. We stand focused to continue working with the government and the industry at large to create a sustainable health diagnostics network in the country through PPPs.

Philips has been instrumental in driving awareness around sleep disorders in India and globally. What are the solutions provided by the company for sleep management?

As a global leader in the management of sleep disorders, Philips has developed a wide range of products and solutions, from diagnostic devices to patient-centered sleep therapy solutions. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterised by repeated interruptions in breathing throughout the sleep cycle. Philips continues to educate people on the symptoms of sleep apnea such as loud snoring, unwarranted daytime sleepiness and trouble in concentrating which can have an impact on productivity, lower the overall quality of life and potentially pose as a public safety risk too. It is believed that about 7-9 per cent of Indian adult population suffers from sleep apnea. However, the awareness about the disorder and its impact on health & its association with risk factors (such as diabetes and hypertension) remains very low in India. Philips is dedicated to improve the awareness of sleep disorders and partner with the ecosystem to provide end-to-end solutions for diagnosis, therapy and management of sleep apnea. Philips has more than 500 labs across the country and continues to push the boundaries in quality of care and outcomes through new technological innovations. Our Dream Series range of products aims to improve care for sleep apnea patients. The Dream Family offers innovative and comprehensive sleep therapy technology with sleek, patient-driven design, and personalised tools to keep patients engaged during therapy. This range includes PAP therapy (Positive Airway Pressure) devices, reusable masks, connected care solutions which enables better adherence to therapy and therefore superior outcomes. Philips is focused to providing one unified approach to Sleep Apnea care — coordinated, consistent, uninterrupted and centered around the patient and the home.

Philips recently inaugurated an expanded Health Innovation Campus in Pune. How does Pune fit into Philips’ global value chain?

As a part of our strategy to expand the company’s global footprint, we recently announced the expansion of the Healthcare Innovation Centre (HIC) in Pune by commencing the manufacturing process of computed tomography (CT) solutions. As an end-to-end product development hub, HIC is focused to meet growing customers’ demand for innovation, engineering, marketing, customer services, procurement, quality and regulatory services besides its traditional manufacturing role in sync with the government’s ‘Make in India’ vision. HIC Pune is one of the six global Philips’ facilities devoted to manufacturing healthcare technology. It is specifically designed with manufacturing flexibility in mind so that it can quickly adapt to the ever-changing market needs and deliver quality healthcare products that meet international standards. Moreover, HIC Pune serves as the headquarters for Interventional Mobile X-ray business for Philips. This means HIC Pune is responsible for the product strategy, technology roadmap, new product development and lifecycle maintenance of critical healthcare products.


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BW Healthcare Magazine May 2019

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