Philips commits to universal health coverage at UN

September 25, 2019
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
Royal Philips announced its support for efforts to provide universal health coverage at the UN's 74th General Assembly in New York.

“Universal health coverage, which is an integral part of the UN Sustainability Goals, is a basic right to health that more than half the world’s population still fails to enjoy,” Jan Kimpen, chief medical officer at Philips, said in a statement.

The company hopes to attack the issue as part of its mission to improve people’s lives, he added.

The goal is to focus on providing better primary care by 2030 for nearly 400 million people a year who live in underserved communities worldwide.

To play a part, the company will align its efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through its “Healthy people, sustainable planet” program — focusing on access to care for the underserved, healthy lives, and well-being and sustainability of materials and energy to cut emissions and move toward renewable energy to fight climate change.

The company reported that it is “actively participating in high-level meetings and discussions with international stakeholders” about these issues.

As part of the UN efforts this week, Kimpen is taking part in a panel discussion titled “Creating enabling ecosystems for digital health.”

In addition the company's head of Sustainability, Robert Metzke will join the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit.

“The level of expertise, cooperation and commitment needed to bring about healthcare transformation can only be achieved through long-term partnerships that co-create solutions and evolve them in response to changing environments,” Metzke stated, adding that, “we are facing complex challenges and unprecedented opportunities. Only through innovation, responsible leadership and in partnership we can combat climate change, transition to circular models and make quality healthcare accessible for all.”

As part of its innovation efforts, Philips and the PURE (Point-of-care Ultrasound in Resource-limited Environments) organization have begun a tele-ultrasound program to train Kigali, Rwanda, healthcare workers to perform ultrasound using the company's Lumify with Reacts system.

“The Rwandese healthcare system has a rapidly developing emergency care infrastructure but still experiences challenges with limited rapid diagnostic capabilities, yet diagnostic imaging is essential in providing specialist-level care for the majority of acute illnesses and injuries presenting,” Dr. Trish Henwood, president and co-Founder of PURE, said in a statement about the program.

In June, Philips released its Future Health Index 2019 report, “Transforming healthcare experiences: Exploring the impact of digital health technology on healthcare professionals and patients,” which looked at the shift from volume-based to value-based care and the effort to create more sustainable health systems worldwide.

The annual report, now in its fourth year, focused on the role of digital health technology and found that while “the majority of individuals” want access to their digital health records and are ready to share them with healthcare professions, “insufficient data sharing” is still a challenge at present.

“Two-way sharing of information is not only essential to deliver the right care at the right time, it also helps to improve the patient and clinician experience,” Kimpen noted in a statement at the time. He stressed that the report shows that better informed patients took better care of their own health, as well, which also tends to lower healthcare costs. “The patient-clinician relationship is highly symbiotic,” he observed, adding that, “what one side does affects the other, and vice versa.”