A look back on the most important lessons learned

16 December 2016

In just a few short weeks we will bid farewell to 2016 - a year that saw a lot of changes, particularly in terms of leadership. In the United States, Donald Trump beat the odds and became the new President-Elect. In the Netherlands, political parties presented their candidates. Leadership was also a central theme in the field of innovation and health care. This blog post addresses leadership in more detail and describes the responsibilities it brings with it in terms of sharing. With that in mind, I would like to share the most important lessons we've learned. But first: a brief retrospective.

E-health leaders in 2016

The year started with CES, a global consumer electronics and technology trade show in Las Vegas. Many companies that develop e-health innovations use CES as a platform to present their latest developments. (Source: SmartHealth) IBM Watson announced its collaboration with Medtronic in the field of diabetes and hypertension experts around the world praised Omron's blood pressure watch, which is capable of taking 24-hour measurements.

But as interesting as these developments were, this event was just the start of what we saw later in the year in our own country. As the European president and host of the E-Health Week the Netherlands proudly demonstrated that it ranked among the innovative leaders of Europe. Many speakers, health-care providers, and entrepreneurs discussed their experiences or announced new projects.

Academic e-health

'Continuum of care'In addition, University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) announced its plans to launch projects in the field of ALS, youth rheumatoid arthritis, and hypertension. Patients can use newly developed apps to conduct at-home measurements within what UMC Utrecht refers to as its "continuum of care". This is a real breakthrough because home measurements taken by patients now end up in the file system of hospital medical specialists (Chipsoft at UMC Utrecht). After being discharged, these measurements can be sent a the rehabilitation center (ALS) or to the patient's family doctor, after which it will be available in the general practitioner database (HIS). An example of this is Promedico of Dr. Bart van Pinxteren in Utrecht.

'This is evidence-based leadership' We are extremely curious about the results of the studies conducted by UMC Utrecht on these and other e-health possibilities. After all, research is extremely important, as Professor Chavannes from Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) revealed in a publication in the prestigious British Medical Journal research on Thuisarts.nl by the Nederlands Huisartsengenootschap (Netherlands Society of General Practitioners, NHG). The website led to a dramatic decrease in the number of telephone consultations and short consultations with family doctors. This is an excellent example of evidence-based leadership.

Breakthrough in e-health funding

Supporting patients at home was another central theme in 2016. In addition to UMC Utrecht, other hospitals jumped on the telemonitoring and home measurement bandwagon for patients with COPD or heart failure, such as Slotervaart Medical Center (MC Slotervaart), St. Anna hospital, Deventer hospital, the Heartlife clinics, and VieCuri. And there's more. Important breakthroughs were also made in the field of e-health funding. Health insurance companies Zilveren Kruis and Menzis were the first to purchase multi-annual e-health from Cardiologie Centra Nederland (HearthWatch), and Slingeland/Sensire (COPD in Sight). This was a very important step that will undoubtedly lead to follow-up steps.

New generation of e-health

And finally, FocusCura also made its voice heard this year. We were the first Apple Mobility Partner in the Netherlands to announce our plans to launch a new generation of e-health products. These products are currently available and are already being introduced as health-care applications, as the video below reveals.

But we're also left with questions...

'If you ask me, there's still a gap between health care and technology'Was 2016 really a year of innovative firsts? You'd think so, especially considering that 97% of Dutch health-care managers and health-care administrators deemed innovations to be a necessary step in preparing for the future, according to the E-Health Monitor 2016 by NICTIZ. Based on this, it's easy to see why many believe e-health is being implemented smoothly in the Netherlands. But is it?

Not entirely. The same progress report on the objectives outlined by the Dutch government found that less than a quarter of health-care professionals actually use e-health applications. If you ask me, there's still a gap between health care and technology. But how can we bridge this gap in light of the positive results mentioned at the beginning of this post?

Funding, acceptance, and understanding

Identifying bottlenecks is the first step in building bridges. A frequently mentioned bottleneck is funding: just 40% of the managers surveyed indicated an ability to invest in innovations. Another bottleneck is acceptance: health-care providers are presenting patients with new opportunities, but patients simply aren't utilizing them. In other words, there is a lack of acceptance and understanding among patients.

Collaboration is key

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post titled, "Stop implementing e-health" (the most widely-read post this year!), in which I called for a change in perspective: instead of viewing e-health as a goal, it should be seen as part of a long-term vision and strategy on making high-quality health care available and affordable to all. In addition to leadership and the commitment of health-care providers and clients, collaboration is an important prerequisite to help us prepare for the new world of health care.

'Yes, we can'By working together and learning from each other, we can enhance the success of health-care innovations and bridge the gap. Health care organizations that have implemented successful innovations that focus on getting things done on a smaller scale. And they are the true leaders. Instead of discussing e-health, they practiced it and shared their lessons with others.

Practice what you preach

To get involved and to practice what we preach, a special FocusCura team compiled a list of lessons learned this year with regard to the successful implementation of e-health solutions. But we didn't go it alone. We're proud that our partners Cardiologie Centra Nederland, Zilveren Kruis, ZZG zorggroep and De Zorggroep were willing to document their knowledge via interviews with our team, which are now available in a whitepaper. This whitepaper contains valuable information and addresses the bottlenecks of funding, acceptance, and upscaling. It also includes fifteen lessons from people who implemented these issues in their own organizations. I would like to thank them all for their openness. '15 practical insights on e-health implementation'


Whitepaper "Implementing e-health"

Are you interested in implementing your own plan for 2017? Would you like to know how and when your e-health solution is eligible for compensation? And which issues to take into account when making e-health available to all health-care employees and clients? Download the free whitepaper "Implementing e-health" at focuscura.nl/nl/vandaag (only dutch)

Digital care is not a concern for tomorrow.

It's a concern for today.