PHILIPS has expressed its optimism for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) market as a key region that will drive the electronics giant’s overall growth while helping it meet a business vision to improve the lives of three billion people a year by 2025.
Caroline Clarke, CEO for Philips Asean Pacific, said APAC has a fast-growing healthcare market, and is therefore a critical region for Philips’ personal health and health systems businesses. With an ageing population, growing middle class and increasing rates of chronic diseases, the region is facing unprecedented challenges in the provision and delivery of healthcare.
According to the United Nations, Asia is home to about 60 per cent of the world’s elderly population, defined as people 60 years or older, and the number of such people in the region is expected to more than double from 547 million in 2016 to nearly 1.3 billion by 2050.
Against this backdrop, the recent Future Health Index study, which was commissioned by Philips, surveyed more than 33,000 participants in 19 countries to understand how prepared health systems across the world are for the challenges that they face in the future.
It found that although people in Asia are aware of the benefits of “connected care technologies” – such as health-related trackers, wearables, home health monitoring devices, live electronic communication between patients and doctors and remote patient monitoring – there is still a lack of understanding about how and why to use them.
In summary, the general population in Asia recognises the importance of taking a more active role in their own healthcare, but there is a knowledge gap that needs to be bridged to educate and equip both the general population and healthcare providers alike to embrace the technologies that are available, to enable people to take better care of their own health.
“We see the government, business and individuals all having their own part to play; only by working together will real change be achieved across the region,” she said.
“We see a big opportunity to address these issues, and improve access to, and quality of, healthcare across the region. We have invested heavily in APAC in recent years – last year we opened a new regional headquarters, based in Singapore, complete with advanced innovation facilities, and earlier this year we announced a partnership with EDBI to co-invest in the region’s most promising digital health companies – and it remains a focus for us for 2018 and beyond.
“And just a couple of months ago, in June, Philips signed a long-term strategic partnership with the Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine Holdings to provide its new oncology centre with a range of Philips’ advanced diagnostic imaging systems, combined with clinical informatics and services for a multi-year term,” said Clarke.
She said that APAC is a priority market for us to cement Philips’ position as a world leader in healthcare technology.
“Our vision is to improve the lives of three billion people a year by 2025, and growing our footprint in APAC will be key to achieving that,” Clarke said.
“As APAC’s population – and middle class – continue to grow, consumers are taking a more active interest in their own health. We are continually innovating to develop products and solutions to help people lead healthier lives at all stages of the health continuum – from preventive care, to monitoring and managing conditions, healthy ageing and home care – and we believe that the APAC market will have a huge demand for such solutions in years to come,”
Clarke said that there are three key trends that are set to dominate APAC’s healthcare industry over the next five years, all driven by rapidly ageing populations and the growing middle class.
The first trend is the convergence of personal and professional healthcare; as people live longer, they are recognising the importance of taking a more active role in their own health. And with advances in personal technologies – like wearables and smartphones – they have the ability to do so, too.
“Thanks to this, the second trend that we are seeing in APAC is a mindset shift, amongst both the general population and healthcare providers, that prevention is more important than treatment.” Clarke said.
To cater for these trends, a lot of our innovations – from healthy cooking equipment to air purifiers and mother and baby products – aim to help people lead healthier lives, to prevent or delay health complaints, and to detect and manage conditions earlier.
The third trend that we expect to dominate APAC’s healthcare industry in the future is the digitisation of healthcare.
APAC’s rapidly ageing population and finite medical resources require a rethink of how, and where, healthcare is provided. Thanks to new technologies, resources – from doctors to hospital equipment and beds – can be allocated much more smartly.
“This is a focus area for us. Our teams have been pioneering the use of tele-health technologies to help specialist doctors ‘see’ more patients, while also developing remote access solutions to safely extend the provision of medical care outside the four walls of hospitals, to the home and remote corners of the world,” said Clarke.
Clarke said that Internet penetration is highest in Asia, accounting for more than 45 per cent of internet users in the world. This presents a huge opportunity to transform how healthcare can be provided, and close the gaps between rich and poor, and between urban and rural populations. Tele-health and remote monitoring technologies in particular will have a major role to play in ensuring APAC’s healthcare systems can cope with the ageing population and rising rates of chronic diseases that are predicted in years to come.
“At Philips, we are also working hard to develop mobile technologies to increase access to healthcare in remote areas, which will be key to improving the overall health of APAC in the future. An example is our partnership with Bunda Medical Center in Padang, West Sumatra, one of the leading hospitals in Indonesia in the area of pregnancy. To address the problem of maternal mortality that this region faces, we developed a pilot program using an app that enables midwives to build a relevant health profile of pregnant women by collecting data from physical examinations and tests and local nursing clinics, or even at the soon to-be mother’s home. Data is uploaded from the app onto the central Mobile Obstetrical Monitoring server, allowing obstetricians and gynecologists to remotely monitor patients who live in more remote areas that might not have easy access to hospitals and medical care professionals,”
“In the future, we expect medical innovations to focus on empowering people to be more active in their own health, and to use medical resources in a more efficient and effective way,” said Clarke.