Defining the future of Image-Guided Therapy in the Philippines

With the Philippines’ developing healthcare landscape, the need for innovative clinical solutions that maximize efficiency and productivity continues to increase. Image-guided therapy (IGT), also known as minimally invasive therapies or interventions, is a 21st century health solution, which involves the delivery of treatment via catheters that navigate through a small opening in the blood vessels.

The possibilities for the future of minimally invasive procedures through image-guided therapy are practically endless. Today, we perceive image-guided therapy as an enabling diagnostic technology for minimally invasive therapy, but its capabilities will not end there. There will be smarter therapeutic devices that not only guide treatment through vascular imaging but also deliver the disease therapy – a truly integrated solution in one device.

I envision a time when all surgical procedures in cardiology, neurology, oncology and even areas like spinal surgery and orthopedics will be done through minimally invasive treatment, supported by intelligent imaging systems and devices.

Where are we now?

The recently enacted Universal Healthcare (UHC) Law aims to give Filipinos access to affordable and high quality healthcare. However, the Philippine healthcare system continues to face challenges. Among these issues are rising patient volumes. With cases of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, continuously increasing, medical procedures become more and more complex.

Based on case studies conducted by Philips, image-guided therapy has been proven to enhance procedural outcomes, shorten recovery times and hospital stays, and lower healthcare costs. Developments like image-guided therapy will create further demand to create tailored technologies and devices that could potentially improve patients’ outcomes, reducing the burden on the healthcare system.

How can we embrace and deliver the future of image-guided therapy?

It is important that we create an environment that enables the adoption of these new clinical procedures to create a promising future.

Firstly, we need to continuously have new technologies and smarter devices that give physicians access to all the relevant information at the point of care. This information then needs to be delivered as seamlessly as possible to help decide the best treatment strategy for each patient. We also need to provide the tools to efficiently guide that treatment and then confirm whether the treatment has been optimally performed.

However, technology alone is not enough; for the best outcomes, industry needs to collaborate with healthcare providers to ensure we are developing solutions that benefit patients including options to bring image-guided therapy/minimally invasive interventions much closer to the patients (e.g. outpatient environments).  We also need to offer a team of people with the right capabilities and expertise to create optimal workflow environments.

Secondly, we need to ensure new technologies and devices are reconstructed and co-registered with any imaging modality in real time, relieving the need for continuous fluoroscopy and therefore allowing a really strong x-ray dose reduction.

Lastly, as healthcare systems shift to models that focus even more on quality of care and long-term outcomes, the imperative for providing robust clinical evidence of the health and economic benefits of new technologies is increasing. This clinical evidence will drive guideline change and define appropriate use criteria, which in turn will aid reimbursement across different healthcare systems and ensure the widespread adoption of technological breakthroughs.

Over time, image-guided therapy procedures will ultimately become even more efficient through more intelligent imaging and will lead to lower x-ray dosage. Ranging from peripheral to structural heart disease, as well as neurology and oncology domains, there is a broad spectrum of new procedures that will be made more efficient by image-guided therapy. My question now is: what do you think the future holds and what needs to be done to achieve it?