The Netherlands is clearly a fertile environment for its 2,200 life science and medtech companies. However, the Dutch ambition to be a frontrunner in new healthcare challenges also comprises an overall approach to treating patients.
Aging population, chronic disease, and innovative pharmaceutical treatments’ role in extending patients’ life expectancies have forced public authorities to reinvent healthcare processes. “Even if patients don’t die anymore of these diseases, they still need to follow their treatments, leading us to the necessity of embarking upon a new era of innovation based on process innovation,” explains Minister Schippers.
Dutch medtech companies are already supporting this revolution by moving from a product-centered offering to a more comprehensive approach. “Ultimately, process organization should follow [a] patient-centric approach, to prevent patients from moving around from specialist to specialist,” asserts Ellen Gijsbers, managing director of Fresenius Medical Care. “In this regard, our Coordinative Care division adopts a patient-centric approach to tackling the peripheral troubles of kidney patients ensuring patients receive all other additional care services they could need, from pharmacy, vascular, cardiovascular and endovascular surgery services, non-dialysis laboratory testing services, physician services, hospitalist, or urgent care services. Nevertheless, deepening this service offer is currently slowed down by the compartmented system of reimbursement,” analyses Gijsbers, in a call for aligning financial and reimbursement schemes with the promising patient outcomes that could offer a more holistic approach to care.
If improving patient outcomes is the ultimate objective of all Dutch healthcare stakeholders; reinventing the relationship between medtech companies and Dutch hospitals is also of crucial importance. Bound by cost-containment, Dutch hospitals are increasingly interested in using industry expertise to improve treatment processes and implement best practices in patient care. This interest undoubtedly provides medtech companies with an opportunity to comprehensively partner with healthcare providers. Siemens Healthcare is one of the foremost pioneers in championing new partnership models with hospitals in Europe, as shown by the recent financing of a new hospital in the Netherlands. “For the EWF [hospital], we indeed went a step further in our collaborative approach, as we decided to finance the hospital, which was completely new for Siemens in Europe. This hospital financing perfectly illustrates that we are ready to increasingly broaden our service offering in the future. For instance, some hospital directors have already asked me whether we would be able to build their hospital entirely!” relates Kees Smaling, managing director of Siemens Healthcare.
Transforming the current regulation around healthcare digitalization takes on a heightened importance, as “about 30% of hospital patients possess chronic diseases. However, the type of medical care required for these patients can be performed from home via all kinds of e-health applications,” explains Yvonne van Rooy, president of the Dutch hospital Association (NVZ). Once again, innovation in this regard could come from the Netherlands, and more precisely from Eindhoven. This Dutch city remains the main hub of Philips Research, whose activities are now entirely concentrated on health innovation. Philips wants to integrate healthcare innovation within a broader “continuum of health” that is, “broader than only covering episodes of sickness or managing chronic disease: [it] is something we’re all part of, all of the time – including taking steps to ensure we stay healthy every day,” explains Hans Hofstraat, vice-president of Philips Research.