Philips Research and Holst Centre successfully collaborate on the development of a disposable health patch
The development of a disposable health patch that monitors a person’s vital signs and functions as a research vehicle to test state-of-the-art technologies (e.g. new electrode materials, printed stretchable electronics and sensor technology) in an application-specific manner. That is what brought together Philips Research and Holst Centre, an independent research and innovation centre, jointly operated by imec and TNO. Jos Gelissen, Research Scientist at Philips Research and Technical Lead of the health patch program in collaboration with Holst Centre, oversees the progress that has been made in the development and testing of the device.
An effective interplay of different experiences and fields of expertise
Cooperation between the parties in creating the health patch started in 2018, with the launch of the health patch program. Earlier, the two organizations worked together on the development of the Healthdot. This wearable biosensor allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients in the hospital, but is especially designed for out-of-hospital and transitional care. It is one of the world’s first biosensors sending heart and respiratory rates to the hospital without the patient requiring a hub or mobile phone.
As with the Healthdot, the collaboration on the health patch is characterized by an effective interplay of different experiences and fields of expertise. TNO and imec at Holst Centre are jointly responsible for the technical and clinical aspects surrounding the development and testing of the health patch. Jos Gelissen acts as the interface between the two organizations, ensuring that the undertaken actions correspond to the key objectives of this collaboration.
Meeting the needs of patients and healthcare providers
With a background in movement sciences and a strong interest in measuring bio signals and turning them into actionable insights for users, Jos is passionate about human centric wearables. Medical surgeries are immensely exhausting for body and mind and are, in many cases, preventable. By providing a healthcare provider with medical data before surgery (as baseline) as well as continuing to measure patients after discharge, wearables such as the health patch can be beneficial for patients, healthcare professionals and the healthcare system in general (by lowering costs).
To actually achieve these benefits, the exchange of knowledge between different parties is crucial. “As Philips Research, we are eager to make progress, but we realize that in order to do so, we need to know where the necessary expertise lies”, Jos underlines. “By finding out who are the key players in certain relevant fields, we can enter into effective collaborations. For instance, we work together closely with the Catharina hospital in Eindhoven to find out which difficulties healthcare professionals and patients encounter and how we can unburden them. We try to translate these difficulties into technical requirements, but it may well be that we do not have the in-house experts needed to meet those requirements. That is where the added value of our innovation partner Holst Centre comes in.”
A partner with a keen eye for innovation and strong network capabilities
In the early days of Philips, the company manufactured products for a wide range of industrial and consumer applications. Nowadays, the focus lies on healthcare, their core business. Certain products, such as sensors, are no longer developed in-house. The development of these sensors happens to be one of Holst Centre’s strengths. “It is great knowing they have in-depth knowledge of fields and products we no longer focus on, but still very much need”, says Jos. Additionally, he considers the network capabilities of Holst Centre to be a valuable asset. “We are working together with various suppliers. In these collaborations, Holst Centre acts as an orchestrator that ensures the performance of appropriate value-chain activities to deliver what we ask for. It is in these moments that I notice that, like us, Holst Centre gets a lot of energy from entering into new collaborations.” Lastly, Jos and his colleagues at Philips Research appreciate the collegiality between them and the people from Holst Centre. “It does not feel like an external party at all. Everyone is easily accessible and the weekly interactions with the technical experts and business developers feel as familiar as they do with internal colleagues. Of course, when sharing sensitive information, there is always the issue of Intellectual Property. Sometimes it is tricky to know what is necessary to share and what is not. The partnership agreement we have with Holst Centre allows us to bring in background information without having to fear further spreading or contamination. Besides, I am a firm believer in sharing Intellectual Property with partners that collaborate in a program, as we do in the current Holst Centre Health Patch program. The easier it is to share knowledge, the easier it is to innovate across disciplines. And that is where the added value lies.”
Bio Jos Gelissen
Jos Gelissen attended the Hogeschool Zuyd Heerlen and Maastricht University for his studies in biometrics and human movement sciences, respectively. In his current job as Research Scientist and Technical Lead of the Holst Centre Health Patch program at Philips Research, he is closely involved in the development and testing of medical wearables. He is passionate about human centric wearables, such as the health patch, that integrate healthcare and daily life.