Good healthcare, but is it sustainable?

Healthcare is about patients

Healthcare is about patients. It is typically delivered to patients by health professionals when acute care is needed but also more regularly to people living with chronic conditions. What matters is the well being of the individual patient and their families.

Health in the Netherlands now

Public health is about the measures to promote the health of the population as a whole. Public health in The Netherlands is high standard. Part of that is a high quality healthcare system; public appreciation of the Dutch healthcare system consistently ranks best in class in Europe (European Health Consumer Index). We can prevent many premature deaths, provide treatment to prolong the lives of chronically sick and give good care to people who are no longer self-reliant. Everyone in the Netherlands has access to high quality and affordable care.

The near future: health in aging societies

Societies are aging worldwide and the Netherlands is no exception. In ageing societies, the need for chronic care increases dramatically while the relative labour force (that provides the care and runs the economy) decreases. The problem is urgent; today more than 1.3 million people work in the health care sector in the Netherlands. If we do not change, this number would roughly need to double to 2.5 million people within the next 25 years (2040). This is neither desirable or feasible.

The challenge: sustainable healthcare

We have to change course and do things fundamentally different. We need to provide better care for more patiënts while using less resources, the most scarce resource being the health professional. We need to increase the self care potential of resilient people while having fall back options for the most vulnerable people.

The main efforts of healthcare organisations and stakeholders but also technological innovations should be towards achieving a sustainable healthcare: A system that delivers high quality healthcare that is accessible and affordable to everyone. A system that is affordable and sufficiently staffed even during the ageing peak in the near future.

Technological innovations in health care often aim to improve public health. In that respect, IMDI.NL is no different from other initiatives. However, the urgency of the sustainability issue (within 25 years!) requires a more focused approach. Therefore IMDI.NL explicitly strives towards new technologies that consistently and accountable contribute to sustainable healthcare.