Research that Saves Lives

Suja Saraswathi, Senior Scientist, Healthcare Research, Philips India

My name is Suja, and I’ve been a Senior Scientist in Healthcare Research at Philips for more than three years now. I work mainly on clinical projects, writing algorithms and carrying out studies to solve healthcare issues. Working closely with clinicians, we get to see what’s really happening on the ground, and it’s exciting to know that my work has real-world impact.

Collaborating with Clinicians and Hospitals

A memorable project was one we did in collaboration with a local hospital. We were investigating methods to identify brain tumour grades, and worked closely with the neural clinician from that hospital. To come up with the ideal solution, we had to exchange technical knowledge and share ideas; learning from the clinician, and she learning from us in turn.
“​​​At Philips, one thing I truly enjoy is getting full ownership of the projects I take on, but with that comes the pressures of responsibility.” ​​​
We had to come up with the right direction to take, and this was especially vital in our method of obtaining patient information from the hospital. We had to work within privacy laws and the limits that the hospital administration had. I would say this is not something I had signed up for, but something I learnt a lot from. In fact, if I were to ever face such a challenge again, I can confidently jump right in to solve it.
Going Beyond the Job Description

What’s unique about my job here in Philips is that we get the opportunity to take on tasks that go beyond our job roles. In other companies, you may end up doing what’s stated in your job description for years, and nothing more.
“​​​Here, I get exposed to challenges that keep me on my toes.” ​​​
For instance, I had to conduct a workshop with a university in a different city. The project was to create collaboration between our research team and the university faculties. It was interesting to test my ability and prove that I could manage people and organise an event like that. From the start, I had this impression that Philips was a people-oriented company, and seeing the kind of opportunities I have been given, I think that’s true.
Internal Innovations

At Philips Research, we have Hackathons and Creative Playground initiatives. These are mini competitions where we collaborate with each other in teams to come up with ideas and prototypes. One of the projects I was involved in was creating a liver functionality scoring system. Without a standard qualification number, it is difficult to objectively judge the improvement or degradation of a liver, and it gets more inaccurate if the patient changes clinicians. Another concept I worked on was measuring the status of a bandaged wound without removing the bandage by using a laser to detect the healing progress.

I think these are good initiatives for people to really get innovative. Without such motivation, we wouldn’t think up such crazy and brilliant ideas!
Making a Positive Impact on Health

What is the most exciting aspect of my job? Working on healthcare problems to come up with solutions for the end-user. I am grateful that I get to work on projects aimed towards building a healthier society.

In the next few years, I see myself taking on new experiences and getting to interact more with the end consumers. I have no doubt that at Philips, I will get such a chance, and if you are ever faced with new opportunities, take it from me that it’s better not to shy away from them and just go for it.