Julia is a Web Developer, Co-Founder of the international Technology Network: Social Developers Club and a Tech-Blogger.
Next to developing React apps and organizing tech-events, she shares insights about her daily life as a woman in information technology on Instagram @juliah, to change the stereotype of computer scientists and inspire more people about technology, digitization, career and a healthy lifestyle.
When I began my career in Tech I quickly learnt that data scientists and software engineers are in high demand in almost all industries. This meant when choosing a job I had the freedom to place more of an emphasis on factors such as company culture and diversity rather than just upon salary expectations.
Truthfully, before I met the team here, I just thought of Philips as the company that created my bedside lamp and electric toothbrush. Since I became more interested in artificial intelligence, I quickly found out that Philips is in fact a global leader in health technology, combining AI with other technologies to create solutions that are designed, not to replace healthcare professionals, but to augment their abilities.
I learnt that AI can already be applied to help detect and diagnose disease. Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution is a solution globally that enables pathologists with the help of decision support tools and powered by artificial intelligence, to perform critical tasks like identifying cancer in lymph nodes, faster and with more precision.
At TNW Conference in Amsterdam I had the chance to talk to Jeroen Tas, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Philips. With the sun finally emerging we met right in front of the Speakers Lounge, between his lunch break and the panel discussion he was there to join: AI & the Path to Universal Healthcare. As a software developer I am extremely excited about AI and the possibilities for developers in health technology, so I’m super happy to share with you the interview below:
Julia: In terms of AI, what possibilities does the health technology sector create?
Jeroen: In my opinion healthcare is probably the most important application area for AI.
Since people are unique and complex, the way diseases start, and progress, is different for everyone. We have to start looking at all that complex information, and understanding how it helps to create better insights on what drives your health. Or, if you get a disease, what really drives the disease.
Cancer for example, is a disease that we see typically for the first time on an image. Technology allows us to analyse that image in a way that hasn’t been possible before. So if we can better understand where disease is coming from and where it is going in your body, then it will be easier to find the right therapies. And of course, genomics plays a big role in that, because cancer is a disease stemming from cells which is typically caused by a DNA defect.
Without AI technology these kind of things are impossible, because there is too much information we have to sift through manually. Now AI allows us to gather these insights and identify patterns that can lead to a more precise diagnosis, which can lead to a better, more targeted therapy and improved patient outcomes. And this is precisely where we have huge potential to have an impact, by really improving people’s lives.
Julia: Compared to other industries [finance for example, which I understand you made the move from] how can a career in health technology provide purpose and meaningful career opportunities?
Jeroen: Everyone I talk to in our company works at Philips because they have a set of capabilities and expertise that they want to put to good use. People don’t pursue a career anymore just to go up the ranks, they pursue a career to do something meaningful.
And the interesting thing working with AI in health technology is that the solutions we design and build are sustainable and scalable. When we develop something, which really gives insights about a disease, we can quickly replicate it anywhere around the world. We can even make it available to doctors that are somewhere close to the patient but far from specialists’ knowledge.
At Dana–Farber Cancer Institute in Boston Massachusetts for example, one of the best cancer treatment and research centers in the world, over 90% of the patients come from the Boston region. But 90% of cancer patients are diagnosed and treated in a hospital that is not a cancer center. So, a question that concerns the CEO of Dana–Farber is, how can they use technology to make sure that everything they know at Dana–Farber can be made available in the community hospitals around the world.
It’s about capturing the knowledge using AI and sharing it around the world, wherever it may be needed. We are in an amazing time, and place, to do great things.
Julia: How do software professionals work at Philips and what role does diversity play?
Jeroen: When I started my career, I worked in teams of only coders. I think these days are over. In our case, as a developer, you work in cross-functional teams of 6-8 people, together with clinicians, designers, data scientists and collectively you create something that has an immediate output. You work together to create something deliverable. You don’t create a cog in a wheel, you actually create a wheel. It’s a very conducive environment, because you quickly see how you contribute.
And I think there is huge value in working with people from other disciplines, because I have never seen something great coming out of a group of people that all think and do the same thing. Great things happen when different minds and different perspectives come together.
Diversity creates better insights, more creative solutions and that’s obvious. If we all think the same and act the same, we get the same outcomes.
Julia: For you personally, what is the best thing about working in health technology?
Jeroen: It starts with the purpose. But I also believe in what we are doing and the use of technology is fascinating. For example we are working with Microsoft, to see how we can help clinicians by using augmented reality applications for image-guided minimally invasive therapies. So we can help the surgeon manoeuvre through the body with advanced technologies.
We are creating the operating room of the future. You can actually see that the technology, such as a new mechanical heart valve, is going live, through the body of the patient to the heart, and at the same time you can view the surrounding information about the patient. You can ‘virtually’ pull out a heart and really make sure the procedure is guided and well executed. From a technology perspective that is hugely interesting.
Also, the fact that we work in a space that is totally new. We may know quite a bit about the human heart these days but we still don’t know much about the brain. We still don’t know exactly how metabolism works together with genetics and the environment. There is still so much to explore and I think that makes it intrinsically inspiring.
Julia: Any last thoughts?
Jeroen: Health technology is undoubtedly a purpose driven environment. One day you will be confronted with your own health, with your parents’ health, with your kids’ health. Everything you’re doing at Philips will serve a purpose beyond you.
I also think it’s great to work with others from such different disciplines in a culturally very diverse organization. If I stand in the elevator in Amsterdam I rarely hear Dutch spoken, just many different languages and accents.
And lastly the technology that we are using is in itself is hugely interesting. I truly believe it’s a great place to be.
Ready for a challenge worthy of your talents and experience? At Philips, you can apply your software development skills to technologies that help doctors’ diagnosis cancer at an earlier stage. That improve the resolution and imaging precision of CT scanners. Or that empower patients with vital health monitoring via their own mobile devices. That’s what we do at Philips, every day. Our work is fuelled by an innate passion to make good things better – we code because we care.
Find out more about life-changing career opportunities #LifeAtPhilips #CodeToCare #SomewhereMeaningful
Originally posted here.
Philips is a world leading health technology company with a vision to make life better for people worldwide through meaningful innovation. Making good on this promise depends on our inclusive, passionate, inspirational, collaborative and diverse team.