Customer centricity in healthcare

In March, the non-profit organization Flanders’ Care & partners organized Dag van de Zorg, a conference day around the central theme Movement in healthcare. All day through, participants emerged in the diverse, innovative and surprising facets of today’s healthcare, to show that the healthcare sector is not as rigid as it often appears.
Next to the overarching theme of the conference, Movement, a second common thread linked all the presentations: starting off from people’s strengths. In healthcare, of course, this translates in the adoption of a patient-centric approach where we start off from people’s skills and capabilities rather than from their problems or the things they can no longer do.

Current changes and challenges in our healthcare landscape

Jo Vandeurzen (Flemish minister of Public Health), who accepted the challenge to give an interview while cycling, focused on current changes and challenges in the healthcare sector. Given the use of the Internet, patients are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and consequently more critical towards healthcare services. The rise of this connected, knowledgeable patient challenges the current healthcare system and demands a more patient-centric approach. Hence, the healthcare sector needs to start from the demands and capabilities of patients to deliver a service that truly delights them. New initiatives to share information between the patient and several service providers as well as the increased use of mHealth and tele-monitoring answer the patients’ need for up-to-date complete information. Also, changing the financing of the physically or mentally challenged installs a more patient-centric way of thinking across the healthcare sector. As a consequence of this change, physically or mentally challenged people (or their family) are nowadays responsible for their own budget and are empowered to spend this money on services that are vital for them, rather than on a standardized pack. In the end, the budget is spent efficiently on services that are tailored to the patient’s individual need.

How StreetwiZe is your organization?

Arnoud Raskin, founder of Mobile Schools and StreetwiZe, inspired the audience with his enthusiast talk about how he uses street children’s skills, capabilities and strengths to inspire managers via leadership workshops and consulting programs. His story starts with his graduation project: Mobile Schools. When observing the education of street children in South-America, Arnoud noticed that street workers encountered difficulties in reaching their pedagogic objectives due to poor material. A cart on wheels, with extendable blackboards and containing more than 300 educational games provided an answer to the unmet needs of these street workers and children. Thus the non-profit organization Mobile School was born!

Through this tool, street children connect with their own unique skills and capabilities, which empowers them to become the central actors in their own lives. Rather than focusing on the children’s problems, Mobile School looks for the positive in each child. Thereby, they aim at allowing the child to reflect and communicate more openly about his or her situation. By doing this consciously, it becomes easier for a child to form a better self-image and gain a better understanding of environment, possibilities and identity. Such self-consciousness allows a child to make well-informed choices for the future. As a non-profit organization, Mobile School relied on donations and gifts for a long time. But as this is not a sustainable way of doing business, a new way of financing needed to be found.
That is how StreetwiZe was born, an organization that provides leadership workshops and consulting programs based on the learnings from street children. The StreetwiZe skills that Arnoud translates from the street to the business context consist of a positive focus, agility, proactive creativity and cooperative competition. Skills that help street children survive in though circumstances are used to inspire business owners and managers. Today, 88% of the budget for Mobile School is generated via the workshops and programs organized by StreetwiZe.

The Spirit of the Valley: Zembro

Next on stage was Bert Duhamel to introduce a new alarm that aids the eldery in living independently. Many elderly people hope to live on their own as long as possible, but sometimes little accidents do happen; an innocent fall, a spot of dizziness or a little accident in the kitchen. An alarm system with 24/7 access to family or an emergency center would be a nice solution to assist the elderly in living independently. However, existing systems in the market are despised by many of them as they are not attractive; one person even called it a cowbell. Therefore, Zembro came up with a new solution: a modern personal alarm shaped like a watch. The watch informs family when an emergency occurs, can send the wearer’s coordinates and can function as a phone. Through this tool, Zembro starts from the current strengths of the elderly and supports seniors in living on their own with support close-by. The Zembro bracelet will be further developed in the future with, for example, reminders to take medication. Furthermore, the bracelet will make minor analyses and will be able to inform the senior’s family should they wander off or stray.

A multidisciplinary approach for mental health

The last speaker of the day was Sonja Willems, Managing Partner at Janssen Benelux. She explained the difficulties of patients suffering from psychosis and the multidisciplinary approach that Janssen applies to do research and find solutions for this specific pathology. Compliance is a challenge for patients with psychosis, as they tend to stop their medication as soon as they start feeling better. However, medication needs to be taken long term to be efficient. A potential solution would be to develop medication that should be taken only once a month and support medication intake with an alarm via SMS.
Next, Janssen provides Essentials in Psychiatry to doctors, which means that they bring content from the most prevailing conferences to doctors in order to keep them up-to-date. Furthermore, via Care4Today, Janssen empowers patients by providing educational materials and new technologies that helps support patients and providers throughout the treatment journey. Finally, more awareness is required regarding mental diseases and their impact on everyday life. Therefore, Janssen supports an artistic research project that provides an interactive platform that transforms the direct perceptions of the user into a simulation of psychosis. This allows, in a creative and engaged manner, to experience how psychosis blends realities and perceptions. The final aim of Labyrinth Psychotica is to get everyone thinking and talking about psychosis.
Looking forward to hear your experiences and thoughts on how the healthcare industry can embrace a more patient-centric approach…

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