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Technology has the power to transform healthcare in India: Royal Philips

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Riding high on the rapid stride of digital transformation in the health sector in India, Royal Philips, a Netherlands based healthcare player believes this change will bring strong opportunities for the global player. The company is looking to bring in a major shift in the way it operates in India so far and making the business processes simpler and seamless

Technology has the power to transform healthcare, both inside and outside the hospital. It’s a huge shift for Philips. “We are 125-year-old Europe’s largest electronics maker with an established connect as a consumer electronics brand, but now we are leveraging this strength in the field of health tech so we could drive better outcomes for patients. If you see most of our products revolves around healthcare, lifestyle, and wellness. Our life-saving health equipment is used in hospitals worldwide,” explains Royal Philips’ Group Chief Information Officer, Alpana J Doshi.

Doshi steers the technology initiatives at Royal Philips and manages 17 countries including India. As part of digital initiatives, the company is taking a big step to implement ‘One ERP’ platform where the India market will be connected to rest of the world. This step aims to simplify the access to the market for the goods, while the supply chain will be more transparent and robust. Another area for the company is to be part of various Government of India led projects like digital India, smart cities, as consumers and healthcare providers are looking for connected devices.

When asked how she looks at India’s market contribution as compared to other APAC markets, she states, “In APAC, I still think India needs to play a big role and keep the pace up. I am trying to get the foundation done from Philips standpoint and get the infrastructure to be digitally ready. It is one of my low hanging areas, to begin with. India is a very complex market and it’s not easy to maneuver around. A supply chain is not fully automated and largely offline. If aspects which are sort of mundane in SAP environment if you are sending the goods, then how do you get automation in terms of notification and invoices. These things take lots of time and manpower. We need to work towards changing the dynamics in the broader landscape which means that many people will have to change the way of working. In the whole of Asia Pacific, we see tremendous business opportunities in India.”

Technology is the backbone

For Royal Philips, the journey has been around building the digital ecosystem for its health-tech services. The company is banking high on the Internet of Things (IoT) and creating connected healthcare experience. On top of that, it is using robotics from its enterprise IT point of view. “We are putting efforts to automate the business process and applying technologies like blockchain, virtual reality, augmented reality and robotics to build PoC for our healthcare services first and scale up the size later. Healthcare in remote areas is also our major focus. Despite the connectivity and infrastructure related challenges, we are continuing to invest more in creating solutions, where it has now made rapid strides,” Doshi highlights.

Explaining the company’s approach, she comments, “Healthcare is now based on sick care. We wait for people to get ill and then fix them. That’s not a sustainable model if healthcare is to scale to meet the needs of our growing population. We have to help people before they get sick and we have to treat the illness.”

Philips’ medical devices such as MRI and CT scanner machines are connected to their cloud servers, which contain over 23 petabytes of data, tracking over 250 million patients around the world. “Technology allows a healthcare provider to interrogate that data and do critical diagnostic support at the point of care. It is enabling a lot of new experiences, but my role is to make that technology usable for the users. We use augmented reality for a surgical navigation system. Another recent project was an ultrasound on-the-go and imaging app, designed for healthcare practitioners serving in remote villages to conduct diagnostic checks via a simple transponder and an Android mobile phone,” says Doshi.

Priorities in India

The January 2018 kick-off for Royal Philips is all about driving digital health services and introducing common and harmonized processes for the India market that are seamless for the rest of the world. It intends to leverage the competency and talent pool of India much more than before. “Technology will play an enabler’s role for us. We have a target of touching three billion lives by 2020. Through our digital initiatives like ‘One ERP’ and e-commerce, we can plan definite plans for the local market,” Doshi asserts.

One of the milestones the company is achieving in 2018 is bringing 50-60 kinds of ERPs together in order to come to one seamless environment. So far countries like North America, Africa, Central and Eastern European Countries are connected and now it is going towards completing the rest of the world this year.

The company had a number of ERPs like SAP and Oracle and others. But now it has consolidated its vision to have one SAP environment. The strategy is in the architecture of going from so many to maybe a half a dozen in the beginning and further come down to single ERP. “We will connect 17 markets from health systems business be it diagnostics, imaging or connected healthcare products. We are going live on this March in India. We are launching one common ERP worldwide in March 2018 and the same ERP to be used by India. It’s a big transformation as it will change the way as our personal health business users work. Where they can ship the goods directly, there is no need to have intermediaries, they can have the automation done from notification, invoices standpoint, you can order the product and change the order. Like Fadex and Amazon kind of experience. The breakthroughs have been both in change management and technology come up with one common technology rather than a plethora of technologies exist,” Doshi concludes.

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