What the World of Healthcare can learn from the Dutch: Four innovative approaches

Did you know that the Netherlands is ranked number 1 in the Euro Health Consumer Index? Not just this year, but already for five years in a row! How did we get there? And how do we keep our high-quality healthcare system accessible and affordable? During the Holland Visitors Programme to the World of Healthcare conference in Rotterdam on 25-28 September, we accompanied the French delegation to get more insight into the Dutch healthcare system.

Four ways the Dutch approach healthcare:

1. Everyone is the CEO of their own health. The MedMij platform, the Dutch personal electronic health environment, is being developed so every citizen can easily and safely have their own health data – ranging from wearable health monitors to lab results – stored in one place. They always have easy access to their own data and can choose which data they are willing to share with others. It gives them the opportunity to actively manage their own health!

2. Hospitals take a patient-central approach. During our visits to the Reinier de Graaf hospital and the Erasmus University Medical Center we saw how much care goes into putting the patient first. First of all, architecture is very important. Day light in every room, single patient rooms, optimised patient flow, rooftop gardens accessible with hospital beds; all of these factors contribute to a healing environment. Secondly, technology and e-health are used to make processes faster and safer. A medication robot prepares the right medication at the right time, sensors in the operation equipment make sure each utensil is accounted for, and real-time health data communication ensures that each patient can be monitored and immediately treated when needed. Specifically, at the Erasmus MC every caregiver has a Myco smartphone device to monitor their patients health and location, and every patient can always reach their own data, appointments, their doctor or facility employee by using their own tablet. (Thus, it might not surprise you to find out that the Netherlands has the highest ICT penetration in hospitals and clinics!).

3. Care for each other and for the environment. Innovation to improve healthcare for people is great, but what about our planet? The new Pharmafilter system creates not only a cleaner hospital, but also a cleaner environment. It is a treatment plant for waste that processes and purifies materials and waste water on hospital grounds. A waste grinder, ‘the Tonto’, hygienically grinds up any unusable materials generated by the hospital and transports it through the water pipes to the Pharmafilter system. In the system, organic waste and bioplastics are converted into electricity. At the Reinier de Graaf hospital, the bio-energy already generates 70% of the energy needed to operate the whole Pharmafilter system! No waste is wasted!

4. And last but not least, the Dutch want to collaborate internationally and learn from others to make the healthcare system even better! During the World of Healthcare conference, the French delegation gave a presentation about the new ways in which France is advancing in healthcare. Did you know that France has launched a new national health strategy just two weeks ago? Astrid Beudet, Health Institutions Advisor at the French Ministry of Healthcare, explained how for example new incentives are being developed to boost collaborative practice between practitioners and hospitals and how the education of healthcare professionals will be modernized to fit new technological developments. Interested to know more? Check out their website (in French).