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Philips CEO: The future of medicine is prevention

What if doctors could warn patients of their risk of heart attack hours, days or weeks in advance? Or flag an oncoming cold by monitoring changes in saliva with a smart toothbrush?

That's the future of medicine envisioned by Philips CEO Frans Van Houten, speaking with CNBC at the World Medical Innovation Forum in Boston.

Philips, a brand name once more closely associated with consumer electronics and light bulbs, is investing heavily in health technology as the global population ages and information technology makes a different approach to medicine possible, Van Houten said.

As more and more data is collected on people, both at home and in the hospital, Van Houten expects to see artificial intelligence that makes sense of it all — taking burdens off physicians and improving the precision of diagnosing disease.