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Head of Digital at Philips: people must be at the centre of digitalisation

Cornelia Szauer, Head of Digital BRD/A/CH at Philips talks to Hamburg News about networkingk digital twins and individualised discussions with clients

Hamburg News: Peter Vullinghs, Chairman of the Board at Philips GmbH told Hamburg News in a previous interview that the future of the health sector lies in digitalisation and big data can save lives. What is Philips researching at present?

Szauer: Different teams at Philips are working on many solutions and strategies in the digital health sector such as networking between hospitals, pharmacists, health service providers, producers as well as insurers. Such digital co-operation among diverse partners can lead to integrated and comprehensive patient care – from prevention, diagnosis and therapy right up to care in the home.

Hamburg News: That would certainly improve patients’ lives – but can it save lives?

Szauer: Definitely. Networking would lead to bundled data on a mobile device. All the relevant information would be available ad hoc and only to authorised persons! The patient must have ownership of the data. But such data can prevent the use for instance of medication that would cause a patient to suffer an allergic shock. Thus digitalisation can save lives or ensure that a patient is not plunged into a life-threatening situation.

Hamburg News: Can you give an example?

Szauer: Linking data and analysing smart data offers new means of prevention. Take e.g. digital twins – or connecting the real with the virtual world based on a multiplicity of health scenes that are re-enacted in order to combat them with therapy early. Apps also manage innovative solutions; data is analysed automatically and individual recommendations made. Solutions are available in many sectors e.g. mother-child, nutrition, special applications for patients who are at risk of cardiac illnesses or diabetes. Apps are not new, but in the past we witnessed mostly silo-based digitalisation. Today’s apps are linked with each other and open up brand new opportunities for staying holistically healthy.

Hamburg News: You manage an 18-strong “Digital Marketing” team that targets consumers. That holds risk and opportunities.

Szauer: Digitalisation allows us to address customers in a mostly individualised manner and via more and more points of contact. Ideally, a suitable offer reaches a customer at the right time. But, it is correct to say that this approach is risky. We all know what it’s like being “pinged” on all kinds of channels i.e. when surfing a webpage, social media or by push messages on a mobile phone. Pursuing a customer can be counterproductive. Thanks to the ongoing evaluation of digital data, we can examine whether the advert is reaching customers and how they react to it. That allows us to plan our campaigns more precisely from the start and to reassess them in real time during the advertising phase. We can look at all the channels and their reciprocal effects and not just in isolation. This improved approach has led to a noticeable rise in online sales and to a significantly improved use of budget compared to two years ago.

Hamburg News: Technological progress is giving you more and more new tools. Which ones are you going to use next?

Szauer: We have a wide range of tools – artificial intelligence via chatbots right up to virtual and augmented reality. But we have to examine the usefulness of all these new opportunities – both for our customers and us. We are not going digital simply for digitalisation’s sake. But we want to see where the diverse technologies can be used to react better to our customers’ demands. We do want to come to a halt, but we do not want to tap into every trend. And people must be at the centre of digitalisation. After all, we are not robots.

Interview by: Yvonne Scheller

About Philips

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. Philips is a market leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health IT as well as health care products for consumers and home care.

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