By Christina Farr and Thomas Escritt
AMSTERDAM/SAN FRANCISCO, June 26 Dutch
healthcare and lighting company Philips said on
Thursday it was teaming up with Salesforce, one of the
first cloud-computing companies in the United States, to offer
online management of chronic diseases.
The venture will involve a cloud-based software platform
that will take data fed from networked medical devices in homes
and hospitals to allow nurses and doctors to monitor the health
of hundreds of patients simultaneously.
The companies said they would launch two new medical
applications, Philips eCareCoordinator and Philips eCare
Companion, later in the summer as part of the partnership.
Philips' chief executive Frans van Houten told journalists
in Amsterdam the services would make it easier and cheaper to
monitor the health of patients.
"Seventy-five percent of healthcare costs spent in the U.S.
are spent on chronic diseases," he said.
In a demonstration of the platform, the companies showed how
a nurse could remotely use a networked weighing scale and a pill
dispensing box to assist elderly patients.
Van Houten said he expected insurance companies would be
keen to fund the use of networked healthcare devices because of
potential cost savings.
"There's a huge amount of money in the healthcare ecosystem;
it's 17 percent of U.S. GDP," he said. "But we believe there's a
lot of waste in that ecosystem."
Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff said the technology
was enabling the industry to connect to, care for, and engage
with patients and each other in a new way.
Philips, which has been transforming itself from an
electronics to a healthcare company, said in the future it could
combine data from its professional products, including hospital
scanners and intensive care monitors, with information from its
consumer healthcare devices to monitor patients' health.
"We are already a big data company," said Jeroen Tas, head
of Philips' Healthcare Informatic Solutions group.
Salesforce said the software conforms to security and
privacy rules under the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act, known as HIPAA.
Over the past year or so, Salesforce and other cloud
pioneers such as Workday have faced greater competition
from startups and major players like Microsoft and
Oracle, and are seeking new revenue opportunities.
In April, Salesforce unveiled a strategy to target specific
sectors, like healthcare. It tapped Vivek Kundra, the former
U.S. chief information officer, to lead that effort.
Kundra said in a telephone interview that Salesforce's push
into the health care industry would focus on lowering costs,
keeping consumers healthy with the help of technology and tools,
and helping patients manage chronic disease.
(Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Jane Merriman)