Wearable devices combined with cloud-based monitoring technologies are enabling sharp reductions in hospital admissions and healthcare costs, Jeroen Tas, CEO of Philips’ healthcare informatics solutions and services business told a daily leading newspaper.
Healthcare today, he noted, is organized around acute conditions — responding when things go badly wrong. “That is where bulk of the cost go. But if you can see things coming, monitor people for deterioration, you can manage the condition a lot better. Till recently, we did not have technology to do all this. Now, we do,” Tas said on a visit to Bengaluru. Philips’ innovation campus in the city is at the core of the company’s technology interventions in the space.
Several studies in recent years have shown that digital remote monitoring solutions have a dramatic impact on those with chronic diseases. One such study on heart failure patients conducted over a four-year period by six Dutch hospitals, three of Netherlands’ largest health insurance companies, and Philips, found that the new care delivery model led to a 57% reduction in the number of nursing days as care moved away from the hospital setting and into the patient’s home. It resulted in a 52% decrease in hospital admissions for the patient group, and on average, a 26% cost-of-care saving per patient.
Another study over five years examined the impact of Philips’ remote intensive care unit (eICU) programme on nearly 120,000 critical care patients. The programme enables healthcare professionals from a centralized eICU centre to provide around-the-clock care for critically ill patients using bi-directional audio/video technology, and a clinical decision support system. The study found that eICU patients, compared to patients receiving usual ICU care, were 26% more likely to survive the ICU, and were discharged from the ICU 20% faster.
“Any doctor anywhere will be able to look into the entire history of a patient to do better diagnosis. Relatives and professional care folks can get immediate alerts if something goes wrong. And the vast amounts of data collected on the platform can lead to algorithms that can improve diagnoses, figure out what works for what kind of patient,” said Tas, who is on the board of Philips and who has had a close connect with India for long, having co-founded IT company Mphasis with Jerry Rao in 2000.
Tas said the platform was mobile-based, cloud-based and very affordable. He said startups could build solutions that get deeper into certain diseases on top of the platform. “This is a total transformation of the way healthcare has been delivered so far and is particularly relevant to small towns in India. It means you don’t need qualified doctors, just someone trained on the devices,” he said.
But this transformation requires hospitals and doctors to share data — not at all a common practice now — and radically change their business models focused on acute care procedures. That could take time.