Q&A: ‘Even when it is a unhealthy disaster, do not let it go to waste, use the momentum to hurry up the scaling up’

Erik Gerritsen departed from his position as secretary-general of the Dutch Ministry of Well being, Welfare and Sport on 1 June 2021, after six years within the position. Described by his friends because the ‘ambassador’ of digitisation within the healthcare sector, Gerritsen has overseen varied social and healthcare digital implementations throughout his time period. He’s set to start out a brand new position because the chairman of the board of the Ymere housing company, one of many largest and oldest housing associations within the Netherlands, the place he goals to proceed delivering his social mission of bettering the lives of weak teams. Throughout this transitional interval, he spoke to Healthcare IT Information in regards to the ambitions of the Ministry of Well being, the digital well being methods he has admired in different areas, and phrases of recommendation for different nations originally their digital well being journey.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.  

HITN: Are you able to speak us by means of the ambitions of the MoH and the way it has delivered on these goals?

Gerritsen: Within the Netherlands, it all the time begins with a why. So why do we’ve to do something in any respect? That is as a result of if we consider ourselves as nonetheless being among the finest healthcare methods on the planet, but when we hold doing the issues as we all the time did, then we’ll transfer to a form of huge disaster, as a result of we’re among the finest healthcare methods, demand for care will develop as a result of folks become older and sicker.

However they will nonetheless an increasing number of reside with these persistent sicknesses. Within the labour market, there are rising shortages of labour, and in addition the variety of casual caretakers goes down. So, that is the massive problem we face.

The excellent news is, there is a means out of it, we are able to remodel and innovate out of this. We name this the precise care on the proper place. Additionally, the precise knowledge in the precise format, for the precise individual too.

We have now to place extra emphasis on prevention and way of life. Digital prospects are simply ready for use. So you’ve this urgency, and this imaginative and prescient of proper care on the proper place. The chances of digital expertise play an important position in implementing this new imaginative and prescient.

When you take a look at this imaginative and prescient, we name it chilly expertise to ship heat care. It is the identical in all places on the planet. Within the Netherlands, there is a huge consensus that that is the best way ahead. In order that’s excellent news. When you journey round within the Netherlands, you see all these issues already in pilots already applied with success. However the huge problem is scaling up.

As I mentioned, in certainly one of my HIMSS Europe keynotes, the satan is within the implementation. There isn’t any lack of imaginative and prescient technique. We all know from practice-based proof that issues are working with completely happy docs, completely happy nurses, completely happy caretakers, completely happy sufferers. Nevertheless, the size continues to be not a nationwide scale or, and even a global scale. So it is the implementation. In essence, we developed a coverage within the Netherlands geared toward this, we name it a flourishing well being ecosystem. For this, you want two issues, you want a optimistic local weather and fertile floor.

“We have now to place extra emphasis on prevention and way of life. Digital prospects are simply ready for use.”

For the optimistic local weather half, we as a authorities took the position as a convening energy, making well being offers when everyone needs to alter, however they’re pointing it in direction of one another. We put the entire system within the room and helped them bounce collectively.

HITN: How has the main focus of the Netherlands reworked in the course of the pandemic?

Gerritsen: We did plenty of ability growth. We had the well being innovation college that began on a nationwide scale, and brings collectively all of the innovators from the hospitals, the pharmacies, the first caretakers, the final practitioners and long-term care.

We’re engaged on making studying communities. We work on eradicating obstacles, once they say we wish to innovate however we can’t receives a commission for it, then we made that occur. In fact, we elevated the subsidies to stimulate many of those developments.

In fact COVID, made all of it go quicker. You’ll be able to take a look at it from the standpoint of, it is a unhealthy disaster, by no means waste a nasty disaster. I do not just like the time period by no means waste a very good disaster, as a result of it is a actually unhealthy disaster.

Even when it is a unhealthy disaster, do not let it go to waste, use the momentum to hurry up the scaling up. Then again, you could possibly say we ought to be a bit ashamed that we wanted this disaster to make the acceleration occur.

Then once more, the excellent news is, as a result of I am an optimist and optimism is an ethical obligation situation. The excellent news, once more, is that the identical folks, the identical hospital governors, the identical professionals, the identical docs, nurses, sufferers, politicians from municipalities which can be going through challenges with implementation, are doing it due to the disaster.

What we’ve to recollect is that when the disaster is just not there anymore, that the identical folks with none legislations or different huge structural reforms, had been capable of innovate, to implement, to cooperate past their very own domains.

We additionally organised eHealth weeks and launched the Sensible Care Relay. We did so much on making folks acutely aware of all the great issues that digital healthcare brings. The second pillar is in regards to the fertile floor. You probably have a very good local weather, you do so much to make digital well being develop and flourish. It will possibly solely develop and flourish if the bottom is fertile. That is one other means of claiming we’d like interoperability.

“We did plenty of ability growth. We had the well being innovation college that began on a nationwide scale, and brings collectively all of the innovators from the hospitals, the pharmacies, the first caretakers, the final practitioners and long-term care.”

We’d like a very good infrastructure that makes it attainable that each one the digital info methods can talk with one another. This contains hospital methods, pharmacy methods, GP methods, but in addition with our programme MedMij. This has created a belief framework for private well being knowledge that allow all of the digital info to movement into the private well being environments in order that the affected person is the proprietor of the medical info that’s accessible for her or him.

We have now this nationwide well being info council I chaired. The entire system within the room on a nationwide foundation, and we labored on making this factor occur partly on a voluntary foundation, utilizing plenty of temptation, techniques and utilizing the optimistic intrinsic motivation, that is all the time there. 

We have now many subsidy programmes geared toward liberating up the information from completely different silos. And as a form of a cherry on the cake, many individuals within the discipline informed the ministry, that is all nice and we adore it once we do that on a voluntary foundation. However nonetheless, it is so troublesome as a result of we’ve plenty of gamers, no one has the authority to rule on this difficult healthcare system.

We’d like a legislation that makes it necessary for all the data methods to be interoperable. A number of weeks in the past, our Cupboard agreed on this legislation that made the digital trade of knowledge interoperability necessary. It has been despatched to the parliament. So far as I do know, that is distinctive on the planet, having a legislation that makes it a part of the standard of care that docs, hospitals, pharmacists, and basic practitioners work with info methods which can be interoperable with the opposite methods. If a healthcare skilled would not, then they do not have a whole image of a affected person. You might be per definition not capable of give the standard of care that’s required and we are able to revoke your training license.

In our nation the place we don’t have these nationwide well being knowledge trade methods and the federal government has no direct authority, we used the ecosystem method. The proposed legislation is a giant step ahead on this. We’re pleased with it. This can be a long-term mission. In a number of years, it is going to be made necessary that these gold bars of medical info should be interoperable.

HITN: Are there any digital well being methods you’ve admired in different international locations?

Gerritsen: On the one hand, it is primarily about inspiration, as a result of the opposite healthcare methods are so completely different. Then once you get impressed by nice issues different international locations are doing reminiscent of within the Scandinavian and Nordic international locations – they’re a giant instance for us. Additionally the Baltics, however generally additionally the USA or Australia or India and even generally, African international locations as a result of they’re leapfrogging. There’s an incredible quantity of inspiration in different international locations. Then again, it’s a must to undergo your individual studying cycle and implementation cycle, feeding to the healthcare system that you simply’re having in your nation. 

Estonia has a very wonderful digital infrastructure. I really like that digital id card, for instance. Which by the best way exhibits the significance of worldwide requirements. Finland is doing wonderful issues with well being knowledge for analysis and growth.

“What we’ve to recollect is that when the disaster is just not there anymore, that the identical folks with none legislations or different huge structural reforms, had been capable of innovate, to implement, to cooperate past their very own domains.”

I have been to the US and seen what wonderful issues are developed and used there. Once more, our foremost theme, once we had been overseas, not solely inspiring and getting impressed but in addition increasing our personal agenda of interoperability. For interoperability, we’d like the US, we’d like Australia, we’d like India, and Europe – particularly the international locations the place the massive IT suppliers are as a result of when the Netherlands itself is a mouse and once we stamp our ft, the elephant is just not going to bounce.

I particularly have heat emotions wanting again on the cooperation. Additionally, making strides in interoperability has been facilitated by HIMSS many occasions, as a result of this isn’t a nationwide query. This isn’t a European query. It is a global query.

HITN: What are some phrases of recommendation you’ll give to different nations originally of their healthcare digital transformation?

Gerritsen: I might say do not be too modest. Simply realise that once you’re lagging behind, particularly with digital healthcare, you might be in an eminent place to leapfrog and present us our backs inside perhaps 5 or 10 years.

I already noticed nice issues, for instance, in Kenya, the place, as a result of there are not any hospitals, however they’ve 4G, they usually have digital issues. They will do much more on-line, with all the gap in ways in which make me even slightly bit jealous.

When you’re not there but, should you nonetheless originally, guarantee that from the start you utilize the worldwide requirements, and in addition deal with interoperability.  

HITN: In your opinion, what are one of the best methods to create significant affect in healthcare methods?

Gerritsen: It is in regards to the implementation, it is about change administration. It is not in regards to the high quality of the person physician or nurse, they’re nice already. It is not about imaginative and prescient, it is there in abundance. It is not about sensible proof, it is already there.

It is this scaling factor. It is in a scenario the place there are plenty of gamers however no one is boss. Everyone’s very busy with surviving and protecting their head above water due to the challenges not solely from COVID but in addition these already current earlier than COVID, and the dearth of personnel.

If you’re both an expert, a affected person, a director or minister, or a state secretary, you can work on easy rules. Suppose huge, act small, begin immediately. Try this every single day after which after two years, you look again and spot you made large progress. However that is solely what you are able to do as an individual.

“Simply realise that once you’re lagging behind, particularly with digital healthcare, you might be in an eminent place to leapfrog and present us our backs inside perhaps 5 or 10 years.”

Additionally, ask for assist. Everyone that’s remotely profitable in healthcare already has the competence of caring for himself or figuring out the best way to get issues finished. However the competence of asking for assistance is a bit underdeveloped. When you can’t do it alone, ask your colleagues, your pals and your community companions.

The final one can be a really private one as a result of plenty of challenges don’t simply have one drawback proprietor. Take duty for stuff you’re not answerable for, with out taking up duty. If everyone begins doing this, we’ll be having a sustainable healthcare system inside 5 years. In any other case, it is going to take 10 or 15 years.

Be taught extra in regards to the Netherland’s digital well being technique on the upcoming HIMSS21 European Digital Well being Convention on 7-9 June 2021. Click on right here to search out out extra info and register. The occasion is freed from cost for workers of well being and analysis establishments.

Healthcare IT Information is a HIMSS Media publication.

 

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