Smart innovations for better and more affordable care

Nominees for the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award in the Vital Communities & Care Category

Innovations that promote vitality and liveability. Safeguarding the availability of affordable and beneficial care now and in the future. Working and enterprising together in the common interest. That’s what everything revolves around in the Vital Communities & Care Category of the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award 2016. The three nominees’ innovations help fulfil these aims. An introduction to this year’s nominees.

It’s been scientifically proven: patients forget 80% of what the doctor says during an appointment. There can be several reasons for this: stress, not understanding what the physician says or the use of medical jargon. This inspired Renske de Bruine to found MOUNT and to develop a digital decision aid. De Bruine: 'After meeting with the patient, the physician fills in the patient’s diagnosis in the electronic patient file (EPF). He or she then clicks on the ‘digital decision aid’ button. The patient is sent an e-mail with a link to his or her personal decision aid. All the information in the EPF will have been pre-entered. The patient then completes a number of steps. In step 1 the patient can learn about their condition in easy-to-understand language and by watching animations. In step 2 the patient sees the potential treatment options.'

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Best decision

The patient is asked to answer a number of questions in the third step. 'You are asked how you feel about an operation, if you have trouble taking medications and about your general state of mind,' says De Bruine. 'This is crucial information for a physician. An 85-year-old woman will most likely make different choices than a young mother with small children.' All the information provided is relayed back and stored in the EPF. The physician and patient then meet again. 'This time the patient is well-prepared and the physician is aware of both the patient’s medical information and personal preferences. This means they can now decide together what is the best choice for the patient.'

New perspective

The second nominee, Hersenz, also helps patients. The treatment programme gives patients with non-congenital brain damage a new lease on life. '130,000 people a year in the Netherlands suffer brain damage,' says Marianne van der Harten of Hersenz. 'They complete an intensive rehabilitation programme and then try to return to normal life as much as possible. But at a certain point things go wrong for many of these people. They experience, for example, difficulties at work or in their relationship and easily become tired, overstimulated, uninhibited, forgetful or confused.'

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Getting the family involved

Other organisations in the field also recognised the problem. Twelve organisations decided to take action and joined forces to form Hersenz. Van der Harten: 'The treatment consists of modules in the fields of thoughts and actions, emotions and behaviour, energy and exercise, communication and the home situation. The latter reflects the fact that we also actively engage the family in the process.' Maastricht University has demonstrated that the programme works on multiple fronts: patients are more satisfied, feel physically stronger and less down and irritable. They also have a decreased need for care. This reduces the pressure on caregivers. Society as a whole also benefits. 'Calculations reveal that every euro invested in Hersenz saves society five euros,' says Van der Harten. 'The treatment reduces the costs relating to health care, unemployment, debt counselling and divorce.'

Playful rehabilitation

The third nominee makes rehabilitation following, for example, a stroke more playful and consequently more effective. Willem Fontijn of Symbio Therapy, the company that developed the TagTrainer and TikTegel, explains: 'Rehabilitation after a stroke is an intensive, boring and lengthy process. It’s hard to keep doing the exercises, especially if you no longer notice any real improvement. Research reveals that 67 percent of people who have had a stroke still have only limited use of their arms and hands after four years. So they fail to achieve the maximum recovery result due to a lack of motivation. In contrast, people who are motivated can achieve up to a 40% increase in their arm and hand function by doing the right exercises. This means the difference between being able or unable to pour a cup of tea, lock the door or write.'

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Playful form

The TikTegel (hardware) and TagTrainer (software) give patients the desperately needed motivation to carry on. Willem explains: 'It’s a combination of an interactive gaming computer, sensorimotor rehabilitation therapy and remote care. You do the exercises in the form of a game. It’s something both adults and children enjoy. And because we register each movement precisely, the patient, while perhaps not noticing any immediate progress, can clearly tell by their score that they’re making progress.' The therapist can track the progress, even remotely if the patient is doing the exercises independently at home. 'A unique aspect is that it’s easy for therapists to make their own exercises using the TagTrainer. This means the therapist can tailor them to the patient’s specific development and needs.'

Want to find out more?

More information is available on the MOUNT, Hersenz and Symbio Therapy websites. The winner will be announced on Thursday afternoon, 3 November 2016 at the Herman Wijffels Innovation Event at CineMec in Nijmegen. Admission is free. For more information, please visit the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award website.

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