ABHI Membership

The Impact of COVID-19: A Case Study from Philips

There are many lessons to reflect on now that this first wave of the pandemic is ebbing – as individuals, as companies and as countries. How we responded, how we made the best use of the technologies and medicines to help diagnose and treat those affected, and how the sheer determination of a nation enabled the NHS to withstand the most incredible demand.

As a healthcare technology partner of the NHS, Philips is not immune to COVID-19 either. Organisationally, the virus has forever changed us. 

We radically adapted our routines and existing practices to safeguard the health and safety of our employees, help healthcare providers and ensure the continuity of our operations. Some changes, like video conferencing from our kitchens, took work / life balance to completely new levels. Yet, uniting our teams with a singular purpose – to do everything possible to best support the NHS – unlocked incredible speed of solutions in the fight against COVID-19.

We looked at healthcare technologies, expertise and teams that would make the greatest, fastest, impact to healthcare teams in hospitals and ICUs. We shipped thousands of pieces of equipment - from patient monitors to ventilators, CPAP machines and handheld ultrasound devices. These all had a critical role to play in the diagnosis of COVID-19 patients and enabled faster pathways to treatment.

Our teams worked diligently with the MOD and government departments to support multiple Nightingale venues. In London, we equipped 12 London Ambulance Service Units, transporting affected patients to the NHS Nightingale hospital at ExCel, with Philips Tempus ALS units. These portable monitor / defibrillators captured patient data and live-streamed the vital statistics of patients in transit to the receiving medical teams, enhancing immediate decision making and helping to save lives. 

We helped the Birmingham Nightingale prepare for opening-by using Philips Vue PACS as an information “bridge” between it and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Chest X-rays, ultrasound images and CT scans taken at the Birmingham Nightingale had the ability to be read and reported by physicians and radiologists at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This equipment is still in place in the event of a second wave.

We also looked for solutions to help hospitals make full use of existing equipment. In partnership with the University of South Wales, we transformed their simulation centre into a treatment environment. Our training team rapidly filmed specialised videos for NHS staff for optimal use of Philips’  Trilogy 202 and Trilogy V60 ventilators already located in hospitals to effectively treat patients in COVID-19 ICUs. To date, we have held 25 training sessions for NHS teams and our online videos have received 300 views from NHS employees and nearly 1,000 views from healthcare professionals in other markets.

During these last 10 weeks, our field service engineers upheld their key worker status with dignity and tremendous personal responsibility. Since lockdown, this team has made over 500 visits to hospitals to provide support and repair diagnostic equipment used for affected patients, and another 100 hospital visits for new installations of ventilators and patient monitors ordered by the Department of Health and Social Care. These visits often came at a great sacrifice, with our teams choosing to live apart from their families and struggling with the simple things, such as finding accommodation or even food and drinks when travelling.

It is therefore only right that we transformed our Guildford HQ into a PPE distribution facility in support of our colleagues. Volunteers across Philips have hand-assembled, packed and delivered 1,000 packages consisting of 70,000 pieces of PPE to Philips employees on the frontline. 

Pre-COVID, I noticed a cultural habit of using the word “proud” quite casually. Yet it is the only word that genuinely describes how I feel about the teams at Philips and the determination they have displayed in order to rise to this most difficult of challenges. Philips will continue to work tirelessly in partnership with government, industry and healthcare professionals until this pandemic has been beaten.

Neil Mesher, CEO, Philips UK and Ireland & ABHI Board Member