Bart: Lucien, it’s your turn again for the column

Lucien: Thanks, that’s just in time. I’m breeding on something, here at Lisbon Airport

Bart: That’s a perfect breeding ground

Lucien: I’m tempted to write about the two hospitals that just went bankrupt. But I’m going crazy because of all those people with all those opinions already.

Bart: It’s a relevant topic for our audience. Just go ahead!

That’s how this conversation with Bart started on a subject you don’t really want to write about because a hospital that is forced to close its doors while it’s still full of patients is very very sad of course. For patients and their families, for employees, but also for those involved in home care, the general practitioner and insurance companies, etc. There are personal dramas taking place everywhere.

At times like this, everyone asks the questions about how this could have happened and how this should not happen and just has to be solved by money. You can hear that now (again) from those people who get angry over every single euro more for the care in times of quiet.

Now we have to look for an adequate solution, and behind the scenes, people will surely be working feverishly on that. I don’t know to what extent new models of care will emerge, but right now there is an opportunity. Now that a new plan has to be drawn up, we could agree on a number of starting points, such as the impact and use of digital care as a choice for patients, where it is logical and feasible.

I was in Lisbon today to present myself to the Portuguese Order of Doctors, and on several occasions after my lecture, I received the message that they are not doing anything about this at all in that country. Although I know that the government here in Portugal is indeed working on it, it still is a signal, also in terms of disconnect. We don’t ‘find’ each other. The patient who increasingly wants to use digital tools, just like in many other parts of his daily life. George Post (a professor from the US with whom I recently sat in a panel in Cambridge UK) called this ‘social recalibration’, a term I have lovingly adopted. The health care industry would do well to apply some of the most normal things in our daily lives as well, like video consultations (nowadays also properly reimbursed as a service), email traffic (there is a safe way available for it) or blood pressure and weight measurement from home.

Could this have averted this crisis in these hospitals? No, of course not. There is no quick fix or silver bullet for the current challenges that hospitals also face.

Still, for the people who want to take the initiative in Lelystad: please think seriously about a digital strategy as a part of your solution, it’s really 2018! I’d like to think along with you.

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So that Tomorrow will be Better. Here are all previous episodes.