Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips, on the future of radiology

Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips, on the future of radiology

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | December 07, 2017
Business Affairs RSNA

We have one unit that focuses on all these software applications, and not only for a workstation but scalable to enterprise level, like an IDN with multiple radiology departments. You want to understand practice management and variance and all of this with scale from single workstation to entire IDN and then optimize from there.

We have platforms, architectures, design rules and design languages that everyone needs to stick to. Then we have specialty groups — but it is indeed much more complex than the old business unit that functioned separately.

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HCB News: Is 2018 going to be another year of big acquisitions for Philips?

FVH: Acquisitions play a role to compliment the competencies or helping get into adjacent spaces like Volcano or Spectranetics, whereas a company like TomTec or PathXL was an adjacency of a group of people where we said, 'Hey come to Philips,' at a price, of course.

What I always tell investors is that the core of our growth strategy is organic so we spend an immense amount on R&D so that should have a return that results in growth. I would expect that to also continue in 2018.

HCB News: How is RSNA 2017 different from last year's meeting?

FVH: RSNA just started (laughs) but for the whole year we had a very good year. We feel good because all the pieces of our strategy are coming together, we see the result in terms of financial accomplishments, med tech investors becoming interested and seeing value.

All these solutions are coming to the market and it's a world that is full of marketing and claims being made - for example with AI, I feel we get recognition from customers about the practicality of our approach because we help customers make simple steps rather than a 'holy grail, radical, everything is different' type of thing which doesn't work. So it's been well received by our customers and new customers who have opened their doors for us — so it's a good year.

A few years ago at RSNA the word AI was unsettling to radiologists but people are now realizing that maybe it can help rather than substitute — although I did hear some radiologists say that certain aspects will be replaced by automation; a large part of the technician workload, for example, so maybe they will have time for patient engagement. I am not saying the labor will go away but things can be done better with smart machines.

Philips believes that radiologist will become the clinical data scientists. We see a need for someone in the hospital to take a holistic view around data, around patients and workflows going beyond silos and i think the radiologist will be, from an education point of view, capable to evolve in that direction - but it means maybe some of the more menial tasks of reading, calculating and assessing can be automated.

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