Interview Series

Peter Vullinghs, Head of Philips, says: "Big data can save lives"

4 January 2017
Philips is leader of diagnostic imaging. Hamburg News talks to market leaders in Hamburg and the Metropolitan Region. SERIES Part 1: Philips

Peter Vullinghs, Chairman of the Board at Philips GmbH and Chairman Philips Market Leader DACH talks to Hamburg News about innovation and future-orientated products “Made in Hamburg”.

“Work Place Innovation“ in new headquarters

Hamburg News meets Vullinghs in the “Cape Town conference room at Philips new headquarters in Fuhlsbüttel where each meeting place is named after cites across the globe. The headquarters take up six floors and each floor highlights places in Hamburg such as the “Kiez” or Speicherstadt. In line with the company’s “Work Place Innovation“, people choose their workplace depending on the task at hand meaning fixed offices no longer exist. Emails are sent in between meetings from touch down spaces. Focus rooms are available for concentrating on work or breakout areas for informal meetings. “I do not miss my old office overlooking the Alster for a minute,“ Vullinghs, 45, stressed. That is important given the 2,800-strong workforce in the consumer lifestyle and health care divisions and in Philips Lighting, which was publicly listed last May. Philips Group has an 80 per cent stake in the company.

Visions of better lives for everyone

Employee identity with the company has risen noticeably thanks to the new headquarters, Vullinghs believes. Born in Limburg, Vullinghs has been with the Dutch company since 1996. “Why do I work so passionately for Philips? Our vision of better lives for everyone becomes reality here.” This vision includes innovative products and solutions for the health sector in all phases of the “health continuum” from healthy living, diagnosis, therapy right up to home care.

X-ray technology for early diagnosis of lung diseases

Philips leads the way in diagnostic imaging and is conducting research into X-ray technology that allows for timely diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPDs). “Chronic lung diseases are the third most frequent cause of death in Germany after heart diseases and cancer. Such illnesses are often detected far too late. We will use the new X-ray technology to counteract this as a it gives a clear picture of the lungs,” said Vullinghs. Work is underway in neurology on improved diagnostic imaging with computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging to detect cases of stroke and cancer early. “Global research is underway in that field. Yet with 200 researchers and developers in Hamburg, the Hanse city is a key centre of research where we have had many significant successes so far.”

“Vital Minds – preventing delirium in intensive care units

The “Vital Minds“ to prevent delirium is one of those success stories and which Philips has been testing for the past three years in co-operation with the Berlin-based Charité. Neon lights, beeping monitors and a frenzy of activity are the order of the day in intensive care units in hospitals across Germany. Such bustle does not help the patient’s recovery. Up to 80 per cent of patients in intensive care units suffer from various degrees of confusion and have cognitive difficulties which “in extreme cases can be fatal”, Vullinghs stressed. “Vital Minds” uses noise-reducing wooden panelling and especially a luminous ceiling which covers the patient from head to toe. Some 15,400 LEDs generate a chronobiology stimulating light concept. Sleep hormones are reduced during the day and activated at night to allow the patient to sleep well. Research is also focusing on whether the illusion of green, billowing leaves has a positive impact on the experience of pain.

Telemedicine for comprehensive medical care

Vullinghs is extremely proud of the project’s success: “Our (light) research in Hamburg saves lives! And research is continuing into, for instance, integrated solutions. I believe telemedicine is the future.“ Although medical, specialist care is very good in Germany; comprehensive care is not always available in country areas. “In future, our university centres will become centres of competence that can manage smaller hospitals via telemedicine and offer comprehensive top-quality medical care.“ Digitalisation will play a key role in linking up all the involved groups efficiently. Philips is working on an innovative, digital platform combining hardware certified for medical products to link up patients and service providers in the health sector.

“That will end unnecessary examinations by general practitioners, various specialists and hospital examinations. Supporting electronic gadgets such as blood pressure meters or activity trackers for the homes will provide information via the Philips Health Suite Digital Platform for all those involved – from the doctor to the chemist and the care giver,” said Vullinghs. Patients will, of course, retain data ownership, he added.

Support from the senate

The senate is officially supporting Philips efforts to develop innovative solutions and products in Hamburg. “The senate is offering us significant support and together we are striving to make Hamburg an even better centre of health.” Managing digitalisation in the health sector and how to use it advantageously was the issue of his talk with Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, Senator for Health. Another talk with Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for the Economy, Transport and Innovation focused on strengthening the start-up culture in Hamburg.

Future of health sector lies in digitalisation

The results of the talks “Health Innovation Port” were announced last September. Hamburg’s first co-working hub focusing on ehealth, health and medical technology offers start-ups up 1,000 square metres in which they can develop their innovative concepts around the clock. The first founders are expected in the first half of 2017. Vullinghs noted. “The aim is to generate fresh ideas and push ahead.“ The consequence of digitalisation is positive, he believes. “I am convinced that the future of the health sectors lies in digitalisation. I think we can say: “big data can save lives’.”

Sources and further information

Philips Deutschland headquartered in Hamburg

Philips Deutschland, headquartered in Hamburg, is one of the biggest and most lucrative subsidiaries of the glolal Philips company. The German subsidiary is key to the company’s activities in lighting, consumer lifestyle and health care. In recent years, the company has concentrated on medical technology. Philips develops and produces X-ray tubes as well as X-ray systems and parts in Hamburg. Philips employs 100,000 staff in over 100 countries and earned turnover of EUR 24 billion in 2015 with its health technology range.
Source: Philips

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