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Jasper Renema

Programme coordinator

Topsector ICT

Healthcare is important for everyone, but the sustainability of the system is under severe pressure in the Netherlands. To cope with the challenges in the coming decades, the system will have to become more sustainable and adaptive, with a greater focus on cooperation, shared responsibility and openness and development. In addition, COVID-19 and increased risks of other pandemics due to infectious diseases have created a new reality. Work will also have to be done on crisis resilience in healthcare. Smart ICT innovations are indispensable in this sector.

The missions for the Health and Care theme remain as relevant as ever. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has concretised the missions over the past period through various agreements and programmes, including:

Central mission

The above agreements and programmes focus on promoting healthy life expectancy and reducing health inequalities. The central mission statement reads: By 2040, all people in the Netherlands will live at least five years longer in good health, and the health gap between the lowest and highest socio-economic groups will have decreased by 30 per cent. This includes a focus on a healthy lifestyle and living environment, accessibility of care, quality of life and participation in society. There are five underlying missions related to this:

  • That by 2040, the burden of disease due to unhealthy lifestyles and environments will be reduced by 30%;
  • That by 2030, at least 50% more care will be organised in people's own living environment, together with the network around people;
  • That by 2030, the proportion of people with a chronic illness or lifelong disability who can participate in society as they wish and are able will have increased by 25%;
  • That by 2030, the quality of life of people with dementia will have increased by 25%;
  • That by 2035, the population will be better protected against socially disruptive health threats.

Transformation cannot happen without cooperation

Achieving these ambitions will require a major transformation of healthcare. This will require intensive cooperation between government, industry, knowledge institutions and other organisations. Moreover, it requires the commitment of several top sectors. Thus, the highly developed Life Sciences & Health Top Sector (LSH) in the Netherlands can make an important contribution, as can Agri & Food, Logistics and, of course, Topsector ICT.

In recent years, a powerful ecosystem of public-private partnerships has been built up in our country. For example, there is a working group on Health & Care at the Dutch AI Coalition. Furthermore, the Health theme at Commit2Data and the National AI Care course have been developed. Data is an important part of the central mission solution. The trick is to safely draw lessons from anonymised and encrypted data. Regardless of technology, when sharing data, it is essential to capture 'informed consent', with blockchain being a possible solution in the highly fragmented healthcare system. Blockchain can be the connector between data providers and data consumers as it ensures traceability, transparency and trust in the data. Technology and methods such as AI, the Personal Health Train and FAIR combined with well-filled monitoring and data management roles (also known as data stewards) help in this regard. Data ethics should also be high on the agenda. Health Innovation Holland (Hii~Holland for short) and key enabling technologies (KETs) can play a role in this.

Personal Health Train

Traditionally, for an analysis, data is first collected and copied to a central location to perform an analysis. With PHT, the analysis goes past the locations where the data is stored. Only the conclusion is included. It is from this operation that the name PHT is derived. The Personal Health Train visits the required data. It is a train that passes by various data stations to analyse information there.

Find out more about Personal Health Train
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