The Philips Capsule Medical Device Information Platform (MDIP) can now integrate with more than 1,000 unique types of medical devices, the Dutch medtech giant said in October.
To help understand what’s possible in medtech with the cloud, Medical Design & Outsourcing asked two leaders at Philips — Virtual Care Solutions Business Category Leader Christine Storm and Informatics Transformational Programs Leader Bas Kuppens — to offer their perspectives. The following exchange has been edited for space and clarity.
MDO: What are some surprising and inspirational examples of what cloud computing enables with regard to medical device design, manufacturing and capabilities/performance?
STORM: When the pandemic started, health systems were forced to pivot and adapt to new technologies to improve patient and staff experiences and safety. Solutions that were slowly evolving suddenly became in high demand. From here came the realization that health systems were not well-equipped to respond to rapidly changing care needs, largely due to the fragmented, vulnerable, and expensive IT landscape in which they operate.
When it comes to healthcare’s digital transformation, the need for effective data sharing across technologies and systems has increasingly become essential in helping our customers improve clinical and operational outcomes. Standardization is key to radically simplify IT infrastructures and bring transparency and predictability to total cost of ownership. When this new era starts to take shape, individual point solutions will have limited value and will need to be replaced with interconnected solutions that offer clinicians the right data at the right time.
In an emerging environment dependent on connectivity and agility, two key developments have emerged in the race to achieve connected care through digital transformation: platform approach and cloud computing. The shift to digital platforms is not new to many industries, but healthcare is playing catch-up, as many healthcare organizations are not yet equipped with IT infrastructures that can keep up with the pace of change. In fact, according to a recent McKinsey report, more than 30% of global economic activity could be mediated by digital platforms in six years, yet experts estimate only 3% of established companies or institutes have adopted an effective platform strategy.KUPPENS: As new capabilities are offered to customers in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, cloud technology can help drive quicker, yet more manageable, adoption of innovation. Customers won’t need to go through lengthy internal budgeting cycles or adopt new solutions in one big implementation. Additionally, cloud technology can help customers redirect their investments to improve care delivery rather than allocating them to owning technology stacks that eventually become obsolete. Through this smaller, incremental and less invasive adoption approach, end-users will also find it easier to embrace these new capabilities.
Cloud technology can help deliver a healthcare system that is much more interconnected, scalable and modular. This will allow providers and systems to adjust to continuously evolving needs and shift the focus from the procedure to the patient. Through the cloud, data can be accessed anytime and anywhere — an essential requirement for new models of care delivery where patient information must be visible in care settings including the home, outpatient clinics, and traditional hospital environments. Combining data from across these care settings can offer more insights to caregivers, enabling them to make more informed decisions.
MDO: What are some previously unthinkable advances that now seem increasingly likely to become reality?
STORM: Connecting massive systems of information and fragmented sources of data onto one continuous platform has proven to be a challenge historically, but the healthcare industry has made staggering advances. To seamlessly connect people, workflows and information using informatics, healthcare organizations will increasingly transition to secure, scalable cloud technology platforms that house integrated informatics solutions to consolidate and veer away from individual point solutions.
In healthcare, there are many data sources holding personal, operational and clinical data such as EMR, Laboratory, ECG, PACS or other data lakes. At the same time, many patients and caregivers are trying to access the information using applications or solutions along the care pathways but are struggling to access this data due to a very fragmented IT infrastructure. Digital platforms, such as Philips’ HealthSuite, provide the capabilities to unlock and integrate the data from various sources, and allow caregivers and patients to interact seamlessly with this data, and gain actionable insights from it.
MDO: And finally, what sort of big, futuristic dreams do these or other advancements inspire?
KUPPENS: Digital platforms are the enabling technology that can bring us closer to achieving the virtual hospital of the future, with patient and consumer-centric care delivery. This technology will enable caregivers to unlock the power of data and tie it together through ecosystem services and extract value using smart algorithms, allowing for more informed decisions. The cloud will facilitate access from across a patients’ care continuum, from anywhere. This allows us to work closely with our customers to develop meaningful solutions that give patients, their families and caregivers a better experience and drive better clinical and operational outcomes along the way.
As part of this transformation journey, the healthcare IT industry will go through several steps. Today, healthcare institutions often implement multi-point solutions to solve specific workflow needs. Because these solutions are all on-premise occupying scarce real estate and adding to the burden of owning the technology stacks, interoperability and inability to take a patient-centric view on data remain a challenge.
Many healthcare institutions are entering the phase of migrating these point solutions to the cloud. This allows caregivers to extract value from data coming from multiple care settings and consume innovation much more quickly and efficiently. Subsequently, ecosystems will start to grow, further unlocking data and tapping into the scalability of cloud computing.
As a last step in this journey, further modularization of platform capabilities will take place. This will pave the way for a composable healthcare enterprise, built from a series of loosely coupled platform capabilities or microservices. These microservices can be used as building blocks to construct true customer-specific solutions and will help to further accelerate innovation in healthcare.