Innovations in health often come from different sectors

Innovations in health often come from different sectors

That care innovation has taken off in Flanders is due to an academically validated strategic vision. Internationally renowned research centres, knowledge institutes, industry, entrepreneurs and healthcare sector sustainably attune their expectations and range on offer in a carefully extended ecosystem. This helps them, in co-creation with the persons with a care need and their informal caregivers, to offer the right care at the right moment. A “health in all policies” policy translates this integrated approach throughout all the policy areas. Flanders’ Care was founded in that context. It is a programme of the Government of Flanders, aimed at improving quality care and stimulating responsible entrepreneurship in the care economy. As coordinator, Carine Boonen stands at the birth of quite a lot of cross-fertilisation.

“The future of care will no longer be restricted to curing what has gone wrong, but will largely focus on personalised prevention: preventing somebody falling ill. This was also the case in the traditional Chinese culture, which aims at keeping people healthy. If somebody fell ill there, it was a failure by the doctor. Today you can predict so many things, before birth and even before conception, that a moment will arrive when nobody falls ill. Then we will only be focused on preventing that we become sick. Key terms are the 4 Ps: predictive, preventive, personalised and participative.

Carine Boonen

Dr. Carine Boonen - Coordinator Flanders’ Care

What will the hospital of the future look like? One thing is certain, there will be a lot fewer beds. A patient will only be tinkered with when something goes wrong, when prevention has failed. We will be able to solve many problems at home. Complex innovation will reach into the living room.

The world is changing rapidly, innovations come and go in a rapid tempo. That raises ethical challenges. Is everything that is made possible technologically, also desirable? We need an ethical framework, points of reference for assessing ethical aspects of care innovation in every stage of that innovation. Europe, the UN or the WHO must create a ‘universal code of conduct’, which states how we deal as human-being with ethical aspects of care innovation, primarily also with an eye on future generations.”

Robot surgery

Robot surgery was invented together with engineers who saw how useful it could be for medicine.

Care needs input from other disciplines.

“Very many future innovations will come from other sectors and will be applied in care. For example: you need a new hip. Instead of choosing the most suitable model from dozens of standard hips, we will simply print out a customised hip with 3D printing. Even now, 3D printing can work with live tissues, such as the regeneration of a pancreas for patients with diabetes. These innovations came from different sectors, when non-medically trained specialists saw their use for medicine. Or take, for example, robot surgery. That was invented by engineers together with doctors.

This multidisciplinary approach is essential and should begin together with the study. More and more students  are given the opportunity to take their thesis or doctorate in a different discipline, so that cross-fertilisation brings together the best of many worlds. Care needs this input from other disciplines.”

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