On Monday 20 June, Denmark’s two-day trade visit to the Netherlands began, led by the Danish Crown Prince and Crown Princess Frederik and Mary. The visit focuses on energy conversion (district heating, energy efficiency and offshore wind energy) and health technology (HealthTech and MedTech). The Netherlands and Denmark share an innovative mindset and focus on, among other things, sustainability, digital solutions and advanced technology within the healthcare system.
Under the heading ‘Cooperation for green and smart solutions’, the visit aims to bring together Danish and Dutch politicians, companies and experts in the health and energy sector to find solutions to the challenges of the future.
Main challenges care
“Our countries have a lot in common, also in health challenges,” Crown Princess Mary began the first part of the healthtech / medtech track, a discussion between a panel of (mainly Dutch) government representatives, health providers and technology. including companies. “Aging, understaffing, too high costs are the three main challenges we both face.”
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, both nations have seen health and medical technology as one of the solutions. Digitization in the healthcare sector went faster than ever, partly due to the construction of public-private partnerships. The pandemic has emphasized the importance of a strong, flexible healthcare sector and the role of healthcare and medical technology in this. “
To make the health sector in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands future-proof, we need to work together and learn from each other, “said the Crown Princess. “Denmark has a lot of knowledge and – smart, digital – solutions to share that other countries can benefit from that can inspire them. In areas such as robotics, smart home solutions. “
Finally, the Crown Princess said that she was pleased that during the state visit there are so many public and private parties present who can realize the aforementioned collaboration on meaningful digitization in the health sector. “Of course, the patient must always be central. The coming days should show how we can realize all this in practice. ”
The panel debate that followed looked at the importance of and ways to use data for patients, healthcare professionals and care, as well as moving care closer to home with concepts such as telemonitoring and the extent to which this can take place.
New technology and digitalisation must enable a future-proof healthcare sector, said moderator Jakob Skaarup Nielsen, CEO of the public-private partnership Sundhedsdanmark. “In the Netherlands and Denmark, many structural reforms have already been implemented or initiated in areas such as financing and regulation. Hospitals are increasingly turning to specialized treatments, while more generic treatments are increasingly taking place at home or in local medical centers. “
However, it makes a coherent care pathway more important than ever. This also requires good accessibility and exchange of data (something that Denmark has done for years via a centralized data system that is already working towards a national EPD). “For this, our citizens also need access to digital solutions.”
Role of EU regulation
According to panel member Roland Driece, Director of International Affairs at VWS, the EU bill on a European Health Data Space could play a major role in bringing digitalisation in healthcare closer. “The availability of the right data in the right place is of great importance for better care. Interoperability is also becoming increasingly important at European level. We travel more and more and would like to receive the same care elsewhere if we become ill or have an accident. ”
However, the necessary exchange of patient data in the Netherlands is not easy due to different systems, for reasons of privacy. Even if the Dutch become patients in another country or go there for treatment. “I believe that the EU’s proposal is important and can help us improve care throughout the EU. Better and safer access can help improve care, but is also important for medical research, such as in rare diseases.”
Use of data in healthcare
In any case, lack of data is not the problem, says Professor Jan Smit, Vice President of Radboudumc. “It’s about the choices you make with it. How will we use and make data available? In this connection, we see Denmark as a best practice example in many areas and believe in the benefits that a European health data room can provide. ”
In a slightly different variant, Jan-Willem Scheijgrond, Global Head of Government & Public Affairs at Philips, claims that the availability of medical technology is not the problem. The challenge is more who is to be served with it. Much has been digitized during the pandemic, but groups have also fallen behind, who are less digitally skilled, while it is the people who can benefit most from it. “There are also more and more health professionals who go because the work is too heavy. We are already talking about the great resignation in the West. Digitization must also be used to turn this around. ”
Patient dropout in the center
Marbel Schreuder from ALK Holland (research in allergies) also sees that people are becoming more and more lost in technology and digitization. “It’s not about technology, it’s about patient outcomes, it’s about improving the quality of life.”
Nevertheless, Schreuder believes that technology can play a growing role in improving the quality of care, such as telemonitoring. “It requires better collaboration in the health chain with the general practitioner as gatekeeper. Between healthcare providers, governments, technology and drug providers, health insurance companies. “
Finally, André Rogaczewski, CEO of Dansk Netcompany, points out that it is important to ensure that people gain trust. “Nine out of ten people are willing to give their consent to the sharing of medical data if it improves their care and quality of life. Make sure to arrange this properly digitally so that caregivers always have the correct data. Otherwise a patient will have to tell his story to a general practitioner, and that trust disappears again. ”
Further digitization of health care
Digital solutions are of enormous importance in the healthcare system, now and in the coming years, ”says Minister of Health Magnus Heunicke. “I think Denmark and the Netherlands can learn a lot from each other. We are both digital pioneers, and we also seek cooperation in many public-private partnerships in our own country. ”
According to Heunicke, Denmark has one of the most digitized health systems in Europe, especially in the data area. “There has been a central exchange of EPD information and medication prescriptions for years. Still, we can not tackle the challenges of an aging population, staff shortages and rising costs without more digitization. ”
Health care reform
Reason for a unique collaboration, where all political parties have signed a complete reform of the Danish healthcare system. Digitization plays a major role here on two points. When it comes to remote care and improving the use of data.
For example, it should be much easier to get a consultation digitally and easily via, for example, telemonitoring. This needs to be properly monitored to improve equal access to care. Now it is often the people with the most health problems who visit the general practitioner or specialist the least.
We are also working on a kind of ‘patient overview’, a rich data set of each Dane, which is directly accessible to any therapist. Data is now available, but it often still takes a lot of time to gather it all. With an updated overview, that time should be available for the actual treatment of the patients. ”