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We’ve all been through this, cars waiting in line for a parking spot at a parking garage which is nearest to the location you want to be. Of course that one is (almost) full. Cars are waiting impatiently, honking their horns whenever someone does not move a couple of meters ahead.

Meanwhile, the parking garage that’s literally just 3 minutes away has heaps of available spots.

So you could go there instead. Yet some people not only skip the lines, but also decide to take the next logical step and try something else. A totally different approach, like public transport or stay the night over, for example. Or even park their car on the other side of the city for a far lower tariff.  Then take the tram or bus into the city center.

Burning issue

Healthcare needs an approach like that. We have created a system wherein we fix things when we know much of these problems could be prevented. Next to the human aspect of it, there is a real need for a change in approach. Actually I think it is a burning issue, one which up until now has been broadly neglected.

Healthcare will face a doubling of demand soon enough. It already has to deal with a staggering shortage of skilled personal and high burnout rates. While patients are demanding a different service model more and more, that all has to be done within the same budget constraints. Or even less. So I think it won’t be so long before the system implodes. Then there will be chaos. We’ve seen some of that in the UK, as fixing the NHS is way more expensive than avoiding the need for it. So, we’re talking about a twofold prevention plan which is needed right here: for the citizen/patient and for the system.

Every healthcare professional would say that the notion that up to 50% of medical conditions could be prevented has already been on the agenda for years. However, I do see some progression taking place at the moment.

Different models

Nowadays, patients are being ‘spoiled’ in their every day life as citizens by webshops delivering stuff the same day, some even within the hour. In the meantime, technology is coming into use that has proven to be effective based on evidence. Health insurance companies are starting to demand the use of different models. By a significant margin they are ordering complex, low risk routine procedures outside of hospitals. And new players are entering the arena. Sounds like a ‘perfect storm’ eh? Yes – and it should! There is NO way we can keep up with the current model, pace or price. In my opinion, the solution for (the challenges of) healthcare is HEALTH.

Combining technologies and incorporating other industries like:

  • food (offer more healthy food, perhaps even based on the condition you live with)
  • transportation (transport patients back and forth to outpatient clinics) and
  • banking (lower financial debts which correlate to healthcare usage)

To name but a few.  And go from the current model of continual step-by-step improvements (which are still badly needed) towards a model which skips the line.
We need to rethink and adapt to realistic possibilities anno 2019 and get in front of the line, as opposed to just keep on honking the horn.


About this column:

In a weekly column, written alternately by Floris Beemster, Bert Overlack, Mary Fiers, Peter de Kock, Eveline van Zeeland, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes, Jan Wouters, Katleen Gabriels en Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions to the problems of our time. So that tomorrow is good. Here are all the previous articles.