The company Philips reminds us of lighting and electronic products immediately, and that is because they were known for these categories of their products for more than a century, but not many of us are aware of the change from lighting to healthcare in Philips’ business model. Today, if you visit Philips’ website, the first thing you would see is Philips highlighting their role in making the world healthier, their involvement in healthcare solutions and technologies for medical treatments. So, how exactly did this change from lighting to healthcare go about and why? Let’s know a little about their history first to understand their recent change in focus.

Philips was founded by father and son, Frederik Philips and Gerard Philips. Founded back in 1891, they started by producing and selling carbon-filament lamps. In the next few years, Philips came up with more electronic and technology-based products, yet faced a tough couple of years, seeing near bankruptcy until they brought Gerard’s brother Anton into the business. Soon after, the business started expanding and they were quick to become one of the largest companies in Europe. In the early 1900s, the Philips lighting business expanded from just carbon filament bulbs to other electronic products as vacuums, electric razors, radios, and other few products, which we see even today, but of course with far advanced technologies and mechanisms. Philips grew on multi-folds, with newer products and big orders to light up palaces and reputable buildings. But they still remained within sector lighting and home care electronic items, the change from lighting to healthcare was far ahead. In the latter half of the 20th century, Philips started producing television sets, cassette recorders, and computers. 

Then came the 21st century, with Philips LED lights, color changing bulb solutions called Philips Hue, to household and personal care products, somewhere down the line, Philips made a change from lighting to healthcare. For the 21st century, Philips put all of its focus on innovation. Currently, they are committed to advancing digital health technology. To put it exactly, Philips has not changed its business line by the means of stopping the production and sales of its lighting solutions, it has changed its focus. Philips now focuses majorly on healthcare solutions, but lighting and other electronic products still very much remain a part of the product range of the company. Now, they manufacture and provide a plethora of products, among which healthcare solutions are like the highlighted, major, and main product line as of now. The range of products that Philips provides is healthcare products, lighting solutions (Philips Hue, Consumer Lighting, Car lighting), household products (vacuum cleaners, kettles), personal care products (electric trimmers, electric toothbrushes, hair straighteners), car and automotive accessories, televisions, tables, mobile and computer accessories, speakers, monitors. Hence, products within the purview of electronics and technology. 

As we want to discuss Philip’s change from lighting to healthcare, it is important to know that the first healthcare product made by Philips was back in 1933, they started manufacturing medical x-ray equipment. But the major, innovative, and high-end products in the healthcare industry were introduced in the 2000s. The first such was in 2002 when Philips introduced ‘Ambient Experience’, a solution to clinical environment designing that aims at improving hospital workflow and patient care through the way of efficient architecture and designing. Next, came the 3D scanners for the medical industry, which Philips started producing in 2006. These 3D scanners were aimed at providing better than ever image quality for CT scans. Then in 2012, came the AlluraClarity interventional X-ray system, you might not be aware of the name but you must know the basic concept of this system. It allows excellent and clear visibility even at low dosage levels of the x-rays. We know how x-rays are not good for the human body, and hence, capitalizing on this thought, Philips introduced these low x-ray dosage systems for scans. And, finally, in recent years, Philips launched the Smart Air purifiers and Philips Azurion. Philips Azurion is the next-gen therapy platform, guided by image capturing which allows performing complex procedures more easily and accurately. Today, if you check out the Philips website, you will come across hearing solutions, respiratory solutions, sleep therapy, and mother and child health care solutions as products for end consumers. Apart from that, they have solutions for healthcare institutes in cardiovascular and radiology among many others. 

Right now, Philips’ motive is to build high-quality home care solutions and remote healthcare solutions for patients through the means of innovation and technology. Starting in 2016, Philips’ range of medical home care products and professional healthcare technology solutions have seen substantial growth; within one year, Philips was able to reach over 2000 patients with their remote care solutions and tie-up with around 100 physicians with their products. It was in Philips’ 2016 annual report where we could clearly see or mark their change from lighting to healthcare. The report announced the transformation of Philips into a focused leader in health technology and delivering innovation to help people manage their health. This transformation was not something shocking as most companies have been seen diversifying into newer product lines and changing business models, it had been some years since Philips had already been introducing and producing healthcare products, and in 2016 they committed to making the world more sustainable through better and advanced digital healthcare technology solutions. This strategic change from lighting to healthcare was done to shift from a low-profit consumer electronics line to a high-profit medical solutions line. With such potential for advancement in technology, it made sense to switch the focus from lighting solutions to healthcare. Healthcare has a lot of potential for innovation, the need for improvement, and is one of the most profitable industries with high margins for advanced products. Philips already had the brand image and goodwill in both India and abroad, and hence, knew that promoting and selling their solutions would not be a bigger challenge. With most companies being more socially responsible and focusing on sustainable development, this shift from lighting to healthcare resulted in Philips contributing to a better and healthier world. 

With this transformational journey, Philips’ change from lighting to healthcare has been a success story so far and has a bright future with the company’s aim to provide dependable healthcare remote solutions from the comfort of patients’ homes. Health indeed turned out to be wealth for Philips, and a switch from lighting ironically did make the business brighter. 

Reference

  1. Philips official website – https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/company/our-businesses
  2. Economic Times article dated 01/10/2017 – How Philips is transforming into a health tech trailblazer – https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/healthcare/biotech/healthcare/how-philips-is-transforming-into-a-health-tech-trailblazer/articleshow/60894455.cms?from=mdr

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