Philips teams up with China hospital

Philips is expected to sign a medical research partnership agreement on Wednesday with one of China’s biggest hospitals, a first for multinational companies in the country.

The Dutch group, which is the world number three in medical imaging equipment, is set to form a partnership with the West China Hospital in Sichuan province, which, with 4,300 beds and 2m outpatients, is the largest single-building hospital in China and one of the largest in the world.

The state-owned West China Hospital, an affiliate of Sichuan University, is also one of the oldest hospitals in China.

The agreement covers eight projects and will last for seven years. Its aim is to help doctors interpret medical imagery and diagnose illnesses earlier by developing an information system and devising faster procedures. Philips hopes to sell the information system to other hospitals around the world.

The projects will focus on diagnosing illnesses such as heart disease and stroke, and finding biological indicators of mental illnesses.

“What is important is the work flow, not the imaging,” Rick Harwig, Philips’ chief technology officer, told the Financial Times. “You need to develop the algorithms to extract the information from the data.”

Philips, which has carried out research in Shanghai since 2000, now conducts 10 per cent of such work in China.

In the medical sciences however, most other multinational companies preferred to donate money towards research in China rather than conduct their own, according to Mr Harwig.

“Money is important, but at the end of the day it is abundant. Scientific expertise is not,” he said.

Some $7.5bn of medical equipment was sold in China in 2006, according to the US commerce department.

Mr Harwig said few other hospitals in the world matched the size of Chinese hospitals. “The basic difference is that they have so many more patients, so you could derive meaningful analyses from the statistics,” he said.

Certain illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, are also more prevalent in China, which makes the country an ideal place to conduct research into them.

(Financial Times)

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