One clinical condition prominent in our line of work within Sleep and Respiratory Care (SRC) is Sleep Apnea. It is a disorder that affects your breathing during sleep and may stop it momentarily, causing your body to wake up on impulse due to lack of oxygen. This means disrupted sleep, poorer concentration in the day, less energy, and thus a higher chance of falling asleep at meetings, or even worse, at the wheel.
There is a lack of awareness of Sleep Apnea and many people do not realise they suffer from it, only feeling the effects in the day. Even General Practitioners owing to lack of awareness may not be able to diagnose it, you would usually have to see a specialist. That's where Philips comes in – we try to educate consumers about such a condition and that we have a device that can help and improve their quality of life.
There is also the issue of change management, where some consumers may not feel comfortable using a new device in their lives, but we help them overcome that hurdle and they see the positive effects on their health and living.
Reaching out to both consumers and businesses
One of the more significant reasons why I took on this role in SRC is that the SRC products occupy a very unique space in the market. We are not just Business to Business (B2B) but also Business to Consumers (B2C). Our target market includes consumers, as well as medical professionals and physicians.
B2C would not work without the B2B diagnostic devices you find in hospitals and clinics. Our roles are very important as we cover diagnosis, prevention, treatment & compliance (treatment adherence), from the medical environment to the home environment.
Throughout my 10 years with Philips, I have come to identify Philips with one word - Collaboration. It is especially relevant in SRC and Respironics, where we look at respiratory, neurological, ENT, cardiology and even psychiatry aspects. Our machines can collect over 30 parameters of health data, so it is important that we can pull knowledge from different specialities and train physicians to use the machines to their best potential.
We are constantly looking at how we can help handle the diagnostic ability of the medical community in each market. In India, Australia and China, we’ve set up sleep centres in partnership with specialists. We are looking at starting up more experience centres in Singapore as well. In Malaysia, we collaborated with the University of Malaya and kicked-off training courses for sleep, to teach the medical fraternity and increase the number of sleep technologists there. We also plan to start HST (Home sleep testing services) in Indonesia.
One of our priorities is to reach out to Pulmonary Rehabilitation centres. Our team at Philips is reaching out to see how we can support them, and also heighten awareness of such centres for patients who need these services but do not know about them.
We are a small team of in Singapore and in the ASEAN region. Ideas are shared frequently within our team and everyone’s very hands-on. If one suggests an idea, we say: okay let’s do it! This occurs not just within the team but also with our colleagues from the Consumer division. An example of this is the ‘experience centre’. We shared the idea of the experience centre with our colleagues over at Personal Health and they said, ‘Hey, we could integrate our air purifiers within that space to enhance the environment for the consumers!’ We went with that idea. Physicians who viewed our experience centres also got to know of other Philips devices and they recommend them to their patients as an all-rounded solution. That’s how teamwork creates better solutions.
Another change we are making is in the perception of medical devices. Our designs are very user-friendly and easy to use, with sleek and simple designs. If you look across all our products, even the larger machines are not bulky and complicated.
Our products are aimed at making life easier for patients, so that their normal routines are not disrupted by hospital trips or being confined to their homes. We have drug delivery devices that allow consumers to carry out necessary treatment without having to go down to the clinic. We sell big stationary oxygen concentrators for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but also portable ones the weight of a laptop. These are small enough to be carried in a backpack by consumers, who can go about their usual activities worry-free, such as walking their dogs or staying out late.
Impacting daily lives
The impact we make is endless – sleep and respiration affects everyone's life. What keeps us motivated is the fact that we are bringing solutions to so many people, and changing their lives for the better. I love this job to the point where sometimes it does not feel like I am working!