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Philips makes bigger move into virtual care

Article

The company recently unveiled new remote patient monitoring solutions to help patients with chronic conditions. Nick Wilson of Philips talks about the program.

Philips has built a strong presence in the hospital space, but the Dutch healthcare technology firm is expanding its offerings beyond the hospital.

Earlier this year, the company launched Philips Virtual Care Management to offer additional remote patient monitoring services. The company is offering technology to help monitor patients with some chronic conditions, along with a team that can support interventions to help patients avoid complications that could lead to a lengthy hospital stay or readmission.

Nick Wilson, general manager of ambulatory virtual care at Philips, tells Chief Healthcare Executive® that the company is looking to offer more services outside the hospital.

“Care is clearly moving beyond those four walls,” he says.

Philips is partnering with insurers, employers and providers with its virtual care solutions.

The company built clinical programs around five patient demographic groups: those with congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, and chronic kidney disease.

Wilson says the Philips virtual care offering can be especially helpful for those with diabetes or hypertension who have recently been hospitalized to avoid a return trip. The virtual care program can also monitor pregnant patients experiencing gestational diabetes and may be at risk of preeclampsia.

(See part of our conversation with Nick Wilson of Philips. The story continues below.)

With Philips’ virtual care solution, Wilson says payers may ask the company to review an employer’s claims data and determine if some workers would benefit from remote patient monitoring.

The devices for patients, including connected scales and small glucometers, are designed to be simple to use and don’t require broadband access, Wilson says. He points to that as a key to make the devices and virtual care services accessible to people with lower incomes, those in rural areas, and many in cities who don’t have reliable broadband.

Wilson says the virtual care program has been developed with health equity in mind.

“As we've designed this program, it's been a really strong focus as well,” he says. “We can add more sophisticated things. But how do we get as broad as possible to support the patients who most need this?”

Philips will also offer support to ensure patients get items such as test strips or other necessities.

The company has clinicians, including nurses, nurse practitioners and dieticians licensed in all 50 states to care for patients on a one-on-one basis, he says.

“For certain customers, we actually provide full clinical coaching and management of those patients as well,” Wilson says. “So we act as essentially the point of contact for these chronic patients, and have deep relationships with them, where we're working with them to help them really adjust their lifestyles, their behaviors, so they have full control of their condition.”

Wilson touted the potential of the program to aid providers with remote monitoring of patients.

“Our programs generate about 700,000 data points a month,” Wilson says. “So think about piling that onto an overworked nurse who’s trying to manage a bunch of patients … or in a heart failure clinic. It’s just not feasible.”

Wilson says the virtual care solution can assist in identifying patients who may need assistance before a problem escalates into a life-threatening situation. “It’s about when you see something happening, that's the point where you can influence human behavior,” he says.

Philips took a key step toward expanding its remote patient offerings when it acquired Biotelemetry, a diagnostic company, in a $2.8 billion deal. Philips completed the acquisition in 2021.

With those ambulatory diagnostic products, Philips then began to focus on expanding offerings outside the hospital.

“All of this is really intended to help manage patients where they want to be, which is at their home, and ultimately drive better clinical outcomes for the patient and better long-term outcomes for the provider and ultimately the payer and the health system,” Wilson says.

For hospitals and health systems looking to expand remote patient monitoring programs, Wilson says they need to be simple for patients.

“At the end of the day, if the patient doesn't use it, you're getting zero data,” Wilson says.

He also stresses that organizations should understand they may not get the same fidelity of data from remote monitoring as they would from an in-patient setting, but it can still be a valuable tool to track patients and intervene if complications are developing.

“Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good,” Wilson says. “Because there's a lot of patients who would receive massive benefits. And if we achieve a patient benefit, we can help the health system benefit, which ultimately means the payers are going to benefit. And then we kind of get into a virtuous circle.”

Read more: Design health products with clinicians in mind


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