'We are innovating for global and local markets'

'We are innovating for global and local markets'
Philips Innovation Campus (PIC), Bengaluru, the technology hub of Amsterdam-based Koninklijke Philips, is driving the innovation programme for the company to the next level. In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s N V Vijayakumar, PIC Chief Executive Officer Srinivas Prasad explains how the company is focusing on solutions, platforms and AI to find solutions for local Indian healthcare industry that will have global implications. Edited excerpts:

What is your take on the Indian healthcare industry?

The Indian healthcare industry is at the cusp of a transformation. The healthcare challenges and the demographics in India pose a very unique opportunity for innovation which will have global application.

The Indian healthcare market is expected to touch $280 billion by 2020. The environment has changed over the years with a shift happening to value-based care. People are now more aware and concerned about their health than ever before. We see more democratisation of healthcare and patients have a greater say in their care. There are more people opting for health insurance now than before and the government has initiated several schemes to support rural healthcare. Moreover, the recent approval by the union cabinet of the National Health policy 2017 should set this transformation in motion.

How technology is transforming Indian healthcare landscape?

Given the magnitude of the challenges in India, conventional approaches of just improving the infrastructure and increasing the government spend alone will not help solve these challenges. Leveraging technology smartly is the key to address these challenges.

Connected care has not really taken off in the last few years as expected. However, given the cloud infrastructure providers in India, the National Health Policy and increasing number of startups focused on healthcare, I believe that the time is ripe now for connected care enabled by AI (Artificial Intelligence) to build tele-solutions to address the healthcare challenges. For example, AI can be used to make hospitals more efficient or clinicians more productive and help them to make better clinical decisions.

Do you believe frugal innovation will help Indian healthcare?

I would use the word “Smart Innovation” rather than the word “frugal Innovation” which I relate to getting more things done with less. What I mean by “Smart Innovation” is being able to connect the dots differently and still come up with an innovation which is relevant in the given context.

The problem at hand is immense. Companies like Philips alone cannot help solve the healthcare challenges. This can happen only through partnering with others in the ecosystem, private, public partnerships (PPPs) and also startups will have to play an important role.

It is important that the problem is viewed from a global relevance but address this in the local context. Speed and quality of the solution is the key to success of these “Smart Innovations”.

Where do you see startups in your scheme of things?

Most of the current startups in India are in the FinTech or ecommerce space. The majority of the ones in healthcare are addressing workflow problems. Many of them are trying to combine AI into their solutions. It is important that the startups are clear about the problem that they are trying to address and pick the technology that best addresses that problem, rather than the other way around which I see happening in many cases.

There are not many startups in healthcare which are really addressing global problems with a local context and leveraging new technologies, to create first of its kind scalable solutions. But I am positive that there would be more in the near future. We recently mentored four such startups at the Philips Innovation Campus.

What is your take on the impact of IoT and AI on healthcare?

Tele-solutions leveraging connected devices and AI is the way forward to address the healthcare challenges in India. Specific solutions alone will only complicate the problem and increase the cost of aggregating the data from the device into the larger solutions. Interoperability and Database Schema decisions will be important in the scheme of things. IoT alone will not help but we need to derive meaningful insights from the data from these devices. In this context, AI tools become important. The AI models would be relevant in other countries too if the model is trained using local data. The connected devices need to be medical grade if the global market needs to be addressed and this requires investment and time.

What is the way forward for PIC?

PIC has come a long way from inception over 20 years ago to being one of the key innovation hubs for Philips globally. With over 3,000 people focusing on healthcare, we are now innovating for global and local markets through smart end-to-end solutions.

These solutions are across the health continuum extending from healthy living, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and extending the care into the home and the community. We set up HealthWorks at PIC a few months ago to mentor startups in the ecosystem.

This is part of a global programme, and is the second accelerator across the globe, the first one being at Cambridge in Boston. I believe that there is an opportunity for the next big healthcare unicorn to be from India and we want to help them get there.

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