Philips (Medical Systems)

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Philips: Product Line of Medical Systems

Philips Healthcare (PH) produces imaging equipment that is used to support medical diagnosis and interventions. Some systems are capable of image acquisition. Examples are X-ray, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computer Tomography (CT), and Ultrasound. Typically, such a product will scan the patient in one way or another and produce images to be viewed immediately. Other products deal with image interchange, archiving and recovery for later viewing, and image processing and annotation.

The company is distributed over the world, with product development in several countries. Product groups (divisions) are responsible for specific market segments. Typically, several (marketed) product lines are available in each product group. Although the different product lines differ a lot, there are also possibilities for software reuse. All deal with storing, retrieving, and exchanging medical images, and many product lines support image process-ing and viewing.

In 1997, an initiative was started to produce the common software for all the product lines as an imaging platform to be used across Philips. During the introduction, several acquisitions have taken place increasing the portfolio to come to a complete range of imaging products for hospitals. There is a strong drive from the board of management to increase the synergy between the newly acquired and the original groups, and to reduce the total development costs. The imaging platform is a means to support this. The platform must be usable for all product groups.

1997, when the first meetings of architects of several development groups were set up. In 1998, a start was made with the design of the reference architecture, and the production of the first software components. In 2001 the first version of the platform was released, and used by the first product lines.  After that, the number of product lines that uses the platform has increased rapidly. The platform has grown to cover many core medical software components.

The business model of the platform development does not aim to maximise profit for the platform group. A model that is profitable for the product groups works better. In practice, this means that these product groups together fund the software development of the platform components. They get the platform software much cheaper than if they would have developed it themselves, although the platform software is often more generic than what they need.


B. J. Pronk. “Medical Product Line Architectures,” Software Architecture. TC2 First Working IFIP Conference on Software Architecture (WICSA1), 1999, 357-67. ISBN: 0 7923 8453 9.

Frank van der Linden, Klaus Schmid, & Eelco Rommes. Software Product Lines in Action, Springer, 2007, Ch. 15.

Klaus Pohl, Günter Böckle, & Frank van der Linden. Software Product Line Engineering, Springer 2005, ch. 21.


About This Product Line

Philips (for its product line of medical systems) was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 12th International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC 2008).

Cited improvements to the Philips product line of medical systems include time to market, consistent and integrated behavior of applications, 2-4 times effort reduction, reduction to less than 50% time-to-market, product defect density to 50% of original rate, ease of feature propagation from one product to others; common look-and-feel, and better product planning & use of roadmaps.