We'll now learn how a Philips Healthcare Informatics and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) partnership creates new solutions for the global healthcare market and provides better health outcomes for patients by managing data and intelligence better.
Joining us to explain how companies tackle the complexity of solutions delivery in healthcare by using advanced big data and analytics is Martijn Heemskerk, Healthcare Informatics Ecosystem Director for Philips, based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Why are partnerships so important in healthcare informatics? Is it because there are clinical considerations combined with big data technology? Why are these types of solutions particularly dependent upon an ecosystem approach?
Heemskerk: It’s exactly as you say, Dana. At Philips we are very strong at developing clinical solutions for our customers. But nowadays those solutions also require an IT infrastructure layer underneath to solve the total equation. As such, we are looking for partners in the ecosystem because we at Philips recognize that we cannot do everything alone. We need partners in the ecosystem that can help address the total solution — or the total value proposition — for our customers.
Gardner: I'm sure it varies from region to region, but is there a cultural barrier in some regard to bringing cutting-edge IT in particular into healthcare organizations? Or have things progressed to where technology and healthcare converge?
Heemskerk: Of course, there are some countries that are more mature than others. Therefore the level of healthcare and the type of solutions that you offer to different countries may vary. But in principle, many of the challenges that hospitals everywhere are going through are similar.
Some of the not-so-mature markets are also trying to leapfrog so that they can deliver different solutions that are up to par with the mature markets.
Gardner: Because we are hearing a lot about big data and edge computing these days, we are seeing the need for analytics at a distributed architecture scale. Please explain how big data changes healthcare.
Big data value add
Heemskerk: What is very interesting for big data is what happens if you combine it with value-based care. It's a very interesting topic. For example, nowadays, a hospital is not reimbursed for every procedure that it does in the hospital – the value is based more on the total outcome of how a patient recovers.
This means that more analytics need to be gathered across different elements of the process chain before reimbursement will take place. In that sense, analytics become very important for hospitals on how to measure on how things are being done efficiently, and determining if the costs are okay.
Gardner: The same data that can used to be more efficient can also be used for better healthcare outcomes and understanding the path of the disease, or for the efficacy of procedures, and so on. A great deal can be gained when data is gathered and used properly.
Heemskerk: That is correct. And you see, indeed, that there is much more data nowadays, and you can utilize it for all kind of different things.
Gardner: Please help us understand the relationship between your organization and HPE. Where does your part of the value begin and end, and how does HPE fill their role on the technology side?
Healthy hardware relationships
Heemskerk: HPE has been a highly valued supplier of Philips for quite a long time. We use their technologies for all kinds of different clinical solutions. For example, all of the hardware that we use for our back-end solutions or for advanced visualization is sourced by HPE. I am focusing very much on the commercial side of the game, so to speak, where we are really looking at how can we jointly go to market.
As I said, customers are really looking for one-stop shopping, a complete value proposition, for the challenges that they are facing. That’s why we partner with HPE on a holistic level.
Gardner: Does that involve bringing HPE into certain accounts and vice versa, and then going in to provide larger solutions together?
Heemskerk: Yes, that is exactly the case, indeed. We recognized that we are not so much focusing on problems related to just the clinical implications, and we are not just focusing on the problems that HPE is facing — the IT infrastructure and the connectivity side of the value chain. Instead, we are really looking at the problems that the C-suite-level healthcare executives are facing.
You can think about healthcare industry consolidation, for example, as a big topic. Many hospitals are now moving into a cluster or into a network and that creates all kinds of challenges, both on the clinical application layer, but also on the IT infrastructure. How do you harmonize all of this? How do you standardize all of your different applications? How do you make sure that hospitals are going to be connected? How do you align all of your processes so that there is a more optimized process flow within the hospitals?
By addressing these kinds of questions and jointly going to our customers with HPE, we can improve user experiences for the customers, we can create better services, we have optimized these solutions, and then we can deliver a lot of time savings for the hospitals as well.
Gardner: We have certainly seen in other industries that if you try IT modernization without including the larger organization — the people, the process, and the culture — the results just aren’t as good. It is important to go at modernization and transformation, consolidation of data centers, for example, with that full range of inputs and getting full buy-in.
Who else makes up the ecosystem? It takes more than two players to make an ecosystem.
Heemskerk: Yes, that's very true, indeed. In this, system integrators also have a very important role. They can have an independent view on what would be the best solution to fit a specific hospital.
Of course, we think that the Philips healthcare solutions are quite often the best, jointly focused with the solutions from HPE, but from time to time you can be partnering with different vendors.
Besides that, we don't have all of the clinical applications. By partnering with other vendors in the ecosystem, sometimes you can enhance the solutions that we have to think about; such as 3D solutions and 3D printing solutions.
Gardner: When you do this all correctly, when you leverage and exploit an ecosystem approach, when you cover the bases of technology, finance, culture, and clinical considerations, how much of an impressive improvement can we typically see?
Saving time, money, and people
Heemskerk: We try to look at it customer by customer, but generically what we see is that there are really a lot of savings.
First of all, addressing standardization across the clinical application layer means that a customer doesn't have to spend a lot of money on training all of its hospital employees on different kinds of solutions. So that's already a big savings.
Secondly, by harmonizing and making better effective use of the clinical applications, you can drive the total cost of ownership down.
Thirdly, it means that on the clinical applications layer, there are a lot of efficiency benefits possible. For example, advanced analytics make it possible to reduce the time that clinicians or radiologists are spending on analyzing different kinds of elements, which also creates time savings.
Gardner: Looking more to the future, as technologies improve, as costs go down, as they typically do, as hybrid IT models are utilized and understood better — where do you see things going next for the healthcare sector when it comes to utilizing technology, utilizing informatics, and improving their overall process and outcomes?
Heemskerk: What for me would be very interesting is to see is if we can create some kind of a patient-centric data file for each patient. You see that consumers are increasingly engaged in their own health, with all the different devices like Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch, etc. coming up. This is creating a massive amount of data. But there is much more data that you can put into such a patient-centric file, with the chronic diseases information now that people are being monitored much more, and much more often.
If you can have a chronological view of all of the different touch points that the patient has in the hospital, combined with the drugs that the patient is using etc., and you have that all in this patient-centric file — it will be very interesting. And everything, of course, needs to be interconnected. Therefore, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will become more important. And as the data is growing, you will have smarter algorithms that can also interpret that data – and so artificial intelligence (AI) will become much more important.
By Dana Gardner