Keynote Spotlight

Philips puts consumers centre stage in personal health

At IFA 2017, Egbert van Acht, Business Leader Health & Wellness Philips, in his keynote address on September 1, will be talking about behaviour change, big data and analytics. In this interview with IFA International, van Acht states that consumers must be centre stage in personal health. We asked him how Philips is empowering consumers to manage their health …

At Philips, we believe there is always a way to make life better. The digital platforms and intelligent solutions we’re showcasing at this year’s IFA are designed to give consumers better insights into their health and greater control over it, plus easy access to professional expertise and advice. They span all stages of life, from vulnerable new-borns to seniors keen to maintain their independence. And they empower consumers to take an active role in managing their health and well-being to get the most out of life.

What are some of the specific products and digital platforms you’re excited about? 

This year, our highlights include innovations in sleep therapy, mother and child care, air quality, oral health and female beauty.
Powered by our cloud-based Philips HealthSuite platform, Care Orchestrator is Philips’ patient management solution for people living at home with chronic sleep and respiratory conditions. It unites patients, homecare providers, physicians and insurance companies. So by exchanging timely, relevant information across the health continuum, everyone benefits.
In mother and child care, we have the Philips Avent uGrow digital parenting platform. Designed to support parents and their baby’s healthy development, it’s the first medical-grade baby app of its kind with connected devices, giving personalised advice that matters.


Looking at air quality, levels of outdoor air pollution are on the rise, and contrary to what many people believe, indoor air quality can be two to five times worse than outdoors. Our air purifiers enable people suffering from respiratory difficulties to manage and reduce their exposure to airborne irritants and allergens, protecting their health.
Next we have the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart toothbrush – a complete oral care solution for a healthier mouth. With high performance brush heads, and personalized coaching and guidance from smart sensor technology, users can be confident they are taking care of their mouth, teeth, and gums.
And lastly, we’re launching the Philips Lumea Prestige, an innovative at-home IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, hair removal device that has been developed to suit the differing shapes, curves and skin tones of women around the world. It’s the world’s first IPL with curved attachments for each body area.
We’re also showcasing new domestic appliances, coffee makers, personal care products, and home monitoring solutions.

More and more people seem to be taking an active role in their personal health. How is Philips meeting this demand? 

Personal health is one of today’s hot topics. The benefits for every one of us are obvious – personal health offers us the opportunity to stay healthy, live well and enjoy life to the full.
There will always be the ultra-health-conscious consumer who is prepared to hook him or herself up every day to the latest gizmo to measure just about every vital sign imaginable, and analyse the results in detail. But they’re not the average consumer. Consumers do need to be empowered to take greater care of their health by having access to personalised advice, encouragement and effective tools to do the right things. But it needs to be done in a way that’s so natural and intuitive that it integrates seamlessly into their everyday lives.
That’s the approach we take at Philips. We’re using our world leadership and medical expertise in digital health, together with our in-depth knowledge of consumer markets and requirements to empower people to take better care of themselves, with, for example, smart connected products like our new Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart toothbrush that makes optimising your oral health part of your daily brushing routine.
Our connected devices gather a significant amount of data in the process, but the role of that data is always to enhance the user experience and optimise results. This includes providing personalised feedback and advice, allowing users to set realistic goals, and building up a long-term picture of whether they are achieving them. And, if necessary, sharing the results with their medical professionals.
Empowering consumers will not only lead to people living healthier lives, but keeping people healthy is also widely recognized as one of the best ways to counter the rising cost of treating the sick.

What are the larger health issues facing society today? 

The problem is that whilst we are living longer, we are also living longer with chronic disease.
The Philips-commissioned Future Health Index – an in-depth report based on the results of surveys and interviews with thousands of healthcare professionals, insurers and members of the public across 19 countries and five continents – found that 59% of healthcare professionals felt they should focus the majority of their overall time and resources on preventive care. And for good reason.
You’re probably aware that if things go on as they are – if people continue to lead the lifestyles that many of them have for the last twenty years – an increasing number of the world’s new over-60s will need treatment for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart failure.
So if we’re going to stop healthcare systems from reaching breaking point, we need to approach the problem on two fronts. We need to find better, more cost-effective ways to treat the sick, and we need to find better ways to help people stay healthy, to prevent disease, so they don’t need to be treated in the first place.

What needs to happen to help people better manage their health? 

We can motivate and empower consumers – every single one of us – to become engaged in looking after our own health. We can democratise healthcare. It will be one of the biggest revolutions in medicine in a generation; and the pre-conditions for making it happen are already there.
The internet has given people access to greater medical information and expert knowledge than ever before.
Stories about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle overflow the media – for example, that if you cycle to work every day rather than using public transport or your car, you cut your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer.And mobile technology and connectivity have already made the doctor-in-your-pocket – an instantly accessible source of healthcare guidance and advice – a reality. So it’s no longer the case that we don’t know what we should be doing. The problem is we’re not doing it.
It’s something else that was highlighted in the Future Health Index I mentioned earlier.
When surveyed, 74% of patients said they actively managed their health. Yet 75% of the doctors surveyed thought that patients needed to take a more active role. So there’s obviously a disconnect between what people think they are doing and what doctors are observing. Philips wants to change that situation.

In recent years, Philips has gone through a major transformation. How would you describe the company today? 

In the past, Philips sold hardware. Today we are a data and software driven company that sells personal and professional healthcare solutions – systems, smart devices, software, services and expert know-how. Solutions that not only address our customers’ immediate problems but also address long-term global healthcare challenges.
The majority of our d e v e l o p m e n t t e a m colleagues are now software engineers, with a single common purpose – making the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation, because Philips’ mission is to improve the lives of 3 billion people every year by 2025.
At Philips, we believe people’s health journey should be a connected j o u rney offering a seamless, integrated and highly personalised experience; a journey in which individuals are empowered to self-manage their health, supported by their care teams if needed, where every single bit of information adds to a greater body of knowledge that individual citizens, care professionals, the scientific community, and from which society at large can benefit