You are about to visit a Philips global content page

Knowledge Hub

Empowering community healthcare workers


To provide healthcare support in underserved communities, Philips Foundation is focusing on improving education, early detection, timely patient referrals, and tech-enabled task-shifting to lower levels of healthcare, such as strengthening the role of community-based healthcare workers. 


As members of their local communities, community health workers play an indispensable role in providing basic health services close to the patients’ homes. With an estimated shortage of 13 million health workers by 2035, Philips Foundation explores ways to empower community health workers by providing them with tools, technologies and skills that can enhance the quality of community and primary healthcare where it is needed.


Explore related projects in our Knowledge Hub


Our approach


In places with minimal access to medically trained staff, Philips Foundation explores ways to strengthen the role of community health workers by providing tools, technologies and training to enhance the quality of community and primary healthcare where it is needed most.


We collaborate with organizations that acknowledge the indispensable role of community health workers in last-mile delivery to build resilient healthcare systems. A mix of top-down and bottom-up engagement practices is needed to understand the local context, develop and offer the right tools to community health workers to provide locally relevant health services and combine them with the right information and operational procedures.


In this way, access to healthcare can start in the communities, so people no longer have to travel far to health facilities to receive timely treatment and recover from their conditions.


Below are some of our projects that bring healthcare to the heart of the communities.


Philips’ software is part of these virtual healthcare services – connecting thehealthcare provider using an app built to provide them with information about, forexample, obstetric care. Suppose the assessed mother’s condition raises questions orposes any risks, the local health care provider is able to virtually connect the pregnantwoman in the primary care facility with a remote midwife or trained gynaecologist.


Virtual care is a pragmatic solution to ensure access to specialized physicians forpatients in remote areas via local assessment and referral. The digitization ofhealthcare is a breakthrough in improving access to care around the world. Collecteddata will help develop better solutions for community health workers and elevateprimary health care in some of the world’s most remote areas.


In several projects, Philips Foundation explored models to increase access to obstetric ultrasound through task-sharing between locally operating midwives supported by sonographers-at-a-distance via telehealth.


Midwives in Kenya are being trained, for instance, at Amref International University; however, they often leave their jobs as they cannot make a living being a midwife. To utilize this lost capacity, in a project with Amref, we focused on testing a social franchise model in which midwives would offer pregnancy screening in primary healthcare facilities using ultrasound to providing them with an income (through pay per scan).


The project results confirmed pregnant women’s willingness to pay for the service, validating the principal foundation for an income-based scalable model. Whether the time to break even is sufficiently short to enable, the midwife-based ownership model will strongly depend on the number of screenings. The project led to valuable new insights, such as identifying women’s motivations and barriers to taking up routine ultrasound screening and the willingness to pay for it, which may result in a self-sustaining model that offers a viable income for midwives.


The project was built around mobile health applications, targeting four audiences: community members, frontline health workers, medical officers, and staff nurses. The intervention included the ChARM device, a Philips-developed technology for pneumonia identification through automated respiratory rate measurement.


After almost two years, strong improvement has been observed in community awareness and care-seeking behavior, as well as improved case management. The mHealth tools for pneumonia were developed to stimulate behavioral change and support frontline healthworkers.


The tools have not only helped the primary health care workers to do their job and actively prevent childhood pneumonia, but it has also been able to distinguish and strengthen their role in the community. This boosted the confidence of health workers and made them more reliable in supporting families and patients in the community.

knowledge hub

Sharing our experience to establish sustainable healthcare for underserved communities


Our access to the expertise and capabilities available at Philips, combined with those of our partners, allows us to adopt original and distinctive approaches and to explore and disseminate them in a scientific manner. With our exploratory approach, Philips Foundation is a learning organization, and at the same time, a platform for knowledge dissemination.


Click here for the full repository of our projects

Share with your peers

Get the latest Philips Foundation news in your mailbox

You are about to visit a Philips global content page


Our site can best be viewed with the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox.