Integration of health services to improve quality of care

Roden Health Centre

A Rabo Impact Loan for Healthcare and Education has facilitated the establishment of a brand-new health centre – built according to sustainable design principles – in the town of Roden in the Dutch province of Drenthe. The centre currently houses three primary care physicians (GPs), a pharmacy, a physiotherapist and a Certe blood testing laboratory, with a nutritionist and a home care service possibly to be added at a future date.

Demand for healthcare in the Netherlands is changing dramatically, and the country’s healthcare expenses are among the highest in Europe. Nothing less than a complete overhaul is needed to address these challenges, including the integration of primary care services under a single roof in local health centres, which will promote collaboration and improve both the quality of care and patient convenience. An all-new health services centre, which will become operational in Roden in 2018, is currently being developed with these needs in mind.


The driving force behind and co-founder of the project is BCN Groep, a company specialising in finding solutions to accommodation issues. Managing Director Aeijolt Keuning: "A general practitioner or physiotherapist would not be likely to set up a comprehensive development project such as this one, when in fact it could really benefit them and their patients. We therefore made an effort to encourage healthcare providers here in Roden to join forces and get them excited about this project. In the process of developing the plans for the shared-services health centre, they are providing the healthcare knowhow, while we share our expertise in property and sustainability. Together, we have created an impeccable plan for a building that ticks all the boxes and represents an approach that’s unique in the market."


Keuning: "We teamed up with the Noordenveld West Groningen local Rabobank to explore ways of funding this project, since the concept behind this health centre is very much consistent with their ideas about how healthcare services should be delivered. The Rabo Impact Loan for Healthcare and Education and an additional loan provided by Rabobank covered a large part of the expenses, while we used funds provided by two partner healthcare providers and by my business partner and myself to cover the rest. I should mention that we also received a loan from the Drentse Energie Organisatie (Drenthe Energy Organisation), which aims to support projects that provide a valuable contribution to society."

About the healthcare providers

"Although the practice of combining GP and pharmacy services is by no means a new concept, this approach takes ‘integrated medical services’ to a whole new level”, says René Kuipers, owner of the Rôner Pharmacy in Roden. As a co-financer of the future healthcare centre, he has a clear idea about what healthcare services should deliver to the public: “Healthcare providers need to start working more closely together in serving patients’ needs. With the increase in longevity and people being expected to continue living at home for longer, there’s a need for high-quality local facilities to meet this demand. If primary care providers start working together, the quality of the care provided will improve – of course, being located in the same building is going to contribute to that as well."

Kuipers: "All the healthcare providers moving into this building will remain fully independent, although I hope we will start working more closely together as we get settled in. This would involve discussing patients with each other and referring them to the appropriate colleagues, as well as using shared waiting areas. The building should therefore be designed in such a way that we’ll be able to quite literally remove some of the walls, so we can work together more smoothly.” The new centre could potentially also enter into a partnership with hospitals by providing services that straddle the line between primary and secondary healthcare. René Kuipers: “A cardiologist or dermatologist from the University Medical Center in Groningen, for example, could hold regular consultations at the health centre, which would make health services more accessible to patients."

The future

Aeijolt Keuning would also like to challenge the participants to forge a genuine partnership with each other once the centre is up and running. "I hope they will work together to coordinate their healthcare programmes and provide patients with a comprehensive range of services, based on a close partnership. This will certainly improve the quality of the care provided. I also see opportunities to establish similar healthcare centres elsewhere, particularly in exurban areas, where there are fewer services and facilities available and providers tend to share many of the same patients. I hope the blueprint we created for this centre can be replicated elsewhere, preferably also with Rabobank serving as a financial partner."

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