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[Herald Interview] Philips in for long-term partnership with Korean partners: CEO

Philips’ Global CEO Frans van Houten (Philips Korea)
Philips’ Global CEO Frans van Houten (Philips Korea)

In a world rapidly digitalizing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Philips seeks to strengthen its partnership with innovative Korean health care providers, said Frans van Houten, the chief executive officer of the Dutch health technology firm.

Through a virtual interview with The Korea Herald on Monday, Van Houten highlighted the importance of having long-term partnerships with health care providers around the world, including those in markets like Korea with strong technological prowess and quality medical practices.

“The Korean market can be characterized by recent trends such as the increasing aging population and more chronic diseases that the society is grappling with, but it is also an innovative market with many early adopters of best practices in technology,” the global CEO said.

“Philips has enjoyed a strong position in Korea, because our innovations coupled with Korean mindsets embracing innovations works very well.”

The Dutch firm has five of the country’s major hospital groups as partners, including Severance Hospital and Seoul Asan Medical Center, the chief mentioned.

“The benefit of a long-term partnership is that you can collaborate on transformation of health care, which will not be done in a day due to the time it takes to change the workflow, change people to behave differently and train them,” he continued. “Philips is bringing its consultancy capabilities to these Korean partners to jointly evolve the way health care is practiced, and change clinical workflows, leverage data for better insights and better decision makings, and make health care more effective and efficient.”

The Philips chairman believes the company’s partnerships in Korea have been successful in a sense that both parties could co-create best solutions for the market and advance the science for better health care.

With Seoul Asan Medical Center, Philips is carrying out the world’s biggest digitalization project, as the hospital possesses the greatest amount of medical data. The two partners aim to digitalize the hospital’s pathology data 100 percent.

This year marks the 45th anniversary for Philips’ Korea operation, and 130 years for the Dutch headquarters.

Based in Eindhoven, Philips started as a lighting company and grew into an electronics maker. But over the last 10 years, it has been transforming itself into a pure health care technology company.

The company sold the lighting business in 2016 and domestic appliances business this year as part of efforts to focus on health care.

It has conducted 25 acquisitions to secure technologies over the last four years.

Early this year, Philips acquired BioTelemetry, a leader in remote cardiac monitoring diagnostic services, and Capsule Technologies, a company that supports data integration for medical devices.

Van Houten said Philips will continue acquiring more technology companies in its journey of becoming a health tech firm.

As the chief described the company’s third-quarter earnings released Monday, the chief highlighted the COVID-19 has shed light on the importance of digital solutions, while it was also affected by the supply chain issues. It reported a 17 percent growth in order intake in the third quarter year-on-year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the insight that digital transformation changes the way health care is provided,” he said. “Through telehealth, consultations between doctors and patients can be done remotely, by using sensors connected to cloud. This can improve labor productivity, be less dependent on hospital buildings (and) shows new ways of providing health care.”


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