by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief | December 07, 2017
Last Monday, in the middle of all the excitement at RSNA, HCB News sat down with Philips CEO Frans van Houten to find out how Philips aims to stay ahead of the competition, what to expect people discussing at next year's RSNA meeting and how to prepare for the age of clinical data scientists.
HCB News: How does a software and computing focus change the requirements for meaningful innovation?
Frans van Houten:
Innovation leads to relevancy but relevancy needs to be in the eye of the user not in the eye of the development engineer at Philips. You can always make a better product that adds value to the customer but we believe that we can go beyond the product to understanding the clinical relevance and workflow of how our products are being used - we call that a solutions orientation and we have a deep collaboration with clinicians to understand where their unmet needs are.
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As an example, we have a new OB/GYN ultrasound machine that is not just creating an image but helps with diagnosis so you can immediately do an image guided biopsy from the same machine and in the same workflow. That's a huge advantage because you don't need to shift the patient from one setting to the next. Why did we include that? Because we heard from our customers that this kind of functionality could improve outcomes and productivity.
Workflow optimization, eliminating unnecessary steps, reducing variance with better position - this is all where AI and computer power will find their way. Philips has committed itself to end to end productivity and outcome orientation, which also means we are much more an informatics company than ever before — 60 percent of our people in R&D are in software.
HCB News: It seems like success in a software-focused industry requires a higher degree of fluidity that conventional business models, would you agree?
I am not sure the distinction is software or hardware, it's clinical practice versus product. We need to get out of our labs and into the work environment of our customers to really understand how we can make them more productive or efficient. Once you understand that clinical need and the economic reasoning then you can design a better product.
The other thing, and this is maybe where fluidity comes in, an organization is never rightly set up in this context because when you think about workflow as radiologist, pathologist, oncologist - you cannot optimize on a single modality. Instead, you need to think about interoperability and ecosystems and ease of workflow, which has led Philips to change its innovation approach where we expect business units to work together.