My “dream” for Healthcare

March 31st, 2010 : My “dream” for healthcare.

I have lost both my mother and father to multiple forms of cancer. It was always there, all the time, just around the corner. Whenever there was good news, not long after, there was bad news. My parents underwent their diseases, it kind of “happened to them”, they did what was needed. Did basically what the “docs” told them to and, had really no idea of what other options were available; if any.

Looking back : stunning !

One of the great gifts I have received in my life, was meeting Maarten Lens-FitzGerald (@dutchcowboy on twitter). Maarten is a young internet entrepreneur, so he knows about the internet and its possibilities. Maarten got cancer too.

Almost right after been diagnosed he started to talk about it through social media like twitter ad made a blog : “To share, to inform and hopefully to help a little”.  Social media and the internet was his lifeline before, during and after chemotherapy, diagnostics etc. To talk, to ask, to find information and to get cheered up on though moments. 

Through twitter we “met”. At first online, later off-line too. Discussing how this way of handling his disease maybe could improve healthcare, by telling his story. Not only online but also offline. How it could help my ambition to change healthcare bit by bit into a more patient-orientated healthcare. Something Maarten would liked to encourage.

For me, the roadmap Maarten had taken, illustrated that empowerment patients can realy help, once presented with accurate information in a understandable way, on a 24/7 basis, supported by social media.

We discussed the option of Maarten coming to Nijmegen and tell his story to my colleagues (at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) and others working in Healthcare. Since in my opinion many healthcare workers are not aware of these kind of changes, especially  the aspect triggered by the internet. 

So, at my first Health 2.0 conference March 2009, Maarten Keynoted (in Dutch) . But this time not –as he often does about his projects or business- but about his Cancer and the things he had encountered. See the interview that @berci made at the speakersdiner)

More than 100 Health Care professionals listened, in complete silence to what he had to tell to us. 

For us it has marked the start of our Journey into participatory healthcare.  I think we can say -as a result- we are one of the most active (academic) Hospital in the Netherlands and may be Europe on this frontier, if not thé most active one. 

I just wanted to enhance this example (of many at present) to illustrate how Social Media can invoke healthcare improvement.

Internet is changing Health Care. Sometimes engaging, sometimes disrupting, dynamically but with a vast heading towards more participation of the people who healthcare is about : patients, their family and informal care.

As I wrote recently on my posterous-blog the most important factor to change healthcare costs literally nothing : Compassion.

It is heart-to-heart attention as one of my colleagues lately stated. It is trying to understand what puzzles or is needed by the other (patient) and how to help him or her. Com-passion : it is both and separate a very important aspect of healthcare. Without passion, no great things have happened. Historie show passion and drive made the difference, not money, not legislation. Com-passion is NOT facing patients with a paternalistic kind of feeling nor feeling sorry for them. 

That’s why my goal will be to create, stimulate, enhance and strengthen Participatory Healthcare with educating and stimulating Compassion in our own Academic Hospital,  in- and outside of it.

Also we will have to face the fact that not only the next generation will be handling information in a different way, but also now the internet makes finding information on one hand easy but on the other hand tricky, so we have to find a way to “certify” health information on a large scale, for instance with the HON-code.

Social media will play a very important role in the next decade, it is my hope or better my dream that healthcare professionals start to use it on a large scale. “To share, to inform and hopefully to help a little” since global sharing of initiatives, experiences makes improving Healthcare as global as healthcare is.

We in Nijmegen not only want to talk about sharing improvement but also put in our effort in doing it. Besides acting on the Participatory Healthcare frontier we also want to share our journey.
So last March we’ve had our 3rd Reshape conference. November 29 and 30 we will host our 4th, which will be the
First European Medicine 2.0 conference of Gunter Eysenbach from Toronto. We will host this conference together with the University of Twente and the RIVM in Maastricht.

It is Thé Scientifical World Congress on Social Networking and Web 2.0 Applications in Medicine, Health, Health Care, and Biomedical Research from a academic perspective.

Next on April 4th,  2011 Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre will be the curator of  TEDxMaastricht on the topic “Fueling the next revolution in Medicine & Health”, a top-level inspiration in Maastricht the place Europe was born, with the most inspiring speakers on healthcare from out of Europe. (@tedxmaastricht )

So,  we are sharing our inspiration, our experiences questions (many many questions) and our passion with you, please come share yours with us.

Fransis said : “Start with the essentials. Then do the possible.  And then suddenly  … you are doing the impossible.”


Three TED’s a day, keeps the Shrinks away ;-)

Need inspiration, need idea’s, running low on solutions ?

My prescription : take a few TED’s and most likely you’re up and running again.

Just choose from the huge and ever growing library of TED-talks like this one.
The only risk you’re on to : is being an TEDdict 😉

Jamie Oliver :

or Ken Kamler: Medical miracle on Everest

We (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) will be organizing an TEDx event March 25th, 2011 in Maastricht on “Medicine in Europe”. More news will follow on @TEDxMaastricht and/or

M-health will take at least 3-5 years to break through.

Call me pessimistic, call me naive. But having a look at discussions on the internet and print on “how big and fast” mobile health will evolve over the next years, how many billion market this will be in 2014, I often raise my eye-brows.

Sure, it will happen, and it will be fast, maybe even exponential, comparing to what we are used to. But to reach a tipping point it will need one very important mandatory group to adopt it : Health Care Professionals.
In my daily work (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) it is just this group that aren’t the front-runners up with these innovations at this point. and i really think we’re a very innovative academic hospital, embracing iPhone apps, looking at iPad use , health 2.0, the first digital clinics etc.  

Lets face it, there are many problems getting doctors from paper-workflow into digital systems, many hurdles to be taken to get to mainstream EHR etc.

Even Gartner,  of their 2009 survey on telemedicine thinks it will take another 5 years.

Don’t get me wrong; i think mHealth will be a big enabler and will be very important, except i am a “little” less optimistic about the speed things get mainstream (let say >60% insurers pay for it, or >30 % Hospitals use it)

And yes, people who know me (or my work) know :

  • i am sure patients will drive this
  • my point always is and will be : act towards mobile with every choice you make today
  • open up your systems for mobile browsing
  • we are busy with iPhone apps and our mobile strategy
  • communicate with patients, informal care and peers by mobile, not only by internet but also by text-messages
  • but most of all start developing WITH patients and HC as of the beginning of your plan. Do not build solutions nobody asks for.

But on the other hand : Sometimes it looks as if it is some kind of self fulfilling prophesy of the market.

Some impressions of combi REshape (3rd edition) and Health Valley Event March 17th.

Great compilation by @punkmedia

<p>REshape | Health Valley 2010 | 17.03.2010 from umcstradboud on Vimeo.</p>


These great photo’s were made by Punkmedia and can be viewed as a slideshow also. 

Video compilation of the day, separate video’s of (Dutch) keynotes will follow. 

By @Medicalfacts and @visuallStar


My Keynote (Dutch) version with slides will follow :

My (Dutch) Slides :

For program check website 


Next REshape (4th edition) Will take place on June 22st, at Nijmegen, and will host a UNconference first followed by a Pecha Kucha contest


The 5th edition will be 29 & 30 November 2010 when we will host Medicine 2010 at Maastricht.


The 6th edition will be a TEDx-event : and  TEDxMaastricht  “Fueling the next revolution in Medicine & Health” April 4th, 2011.




Compassion as a Golden Rule for Healthcare.

March 14th, 2010


Over the past months, i have been thinking on what’s needed to strengthen healthcare on a Participatory bases. Whats crucial, whats mandatory, what else can help. I wrote some thoughts on that matter in my blog about healthcare in 2014.

Sure, most of us have chosen to work in healthcare because they care about people, like to interact with patients and their family, visitors, colleagues. 
Still, sometimes we encounter a different attitude. What triggers this, is it ignited by stress, worries or maybe economical reasons like (the feeling) of being paid too less? What makes patients think about a Nurse as a good nurse, or makes a doctor a good doctor.  In studies and other publications but also in our surroundings it seems like mostly a good doctor or nurse is to be considered to be “listening”, “caring”,  “giving information in an understandable way” and “the feeling that my opinion matters”. Expertise in Medicine is just simply expected.
So, if this DOES makes the difference, and if we DID choose for healthcare : what is needed to boost these aspects.

A few months ago, i “celebrated” my 15.000th tweet on twitter. Looked back a year and suddenly some pieces of the JigSaw Puzzle started to fit, as i wrote in my blog about this 15.000th tweet,  but still some pieces left on the table.

So, i tossed in a NewYears Whish :

And i worked my way though the remaining JigSaw pieces at the table. One of the aspects is to let the patient join your team, but not only the patient him or herself, but  also the family and the informal care, for different kind of reasons. Also if your serious about this, you also have to cope with different kind of communication-models and have to invest in two-way communication also by the internet ánd have to be seriously in give the patient acces to his/her OWN data.

But besides all these steps, there is one you can not plan, nor buy : Compassion

As i wrote in my blog in my opinion is about real people, it is heart-to-heart attention as one of my colleagues lately stated. It is trying to understand what puzzles or is needed by the other (patient) and how to help him or her. Com-passion : it is both and separate a very important aspect of healthcare. Without passion, no great things have happened. Histories show passion and drive made the difference, not money, not legislation. Com-passion is NOT facing patients with a paternalistic kind of feeling nor feeling sorry for them. 

It’s is a concept that isn’t new and for instance a century ago incorporated in the work of “the lady with the lamp, Florence Nightingale” 

I think it is time to act together in a cause that makes the difference, to show our colleagues good examples of compassion.  Of course this movement is and hás to be broader than healthcare alone. 

Today, i came across 2 TED video’s. One i have seen earlier few months ago, and is the TEDglobal video of Karen Amrstrong and is caught in the Golden Rule : ” Always treat all others as you’d like to be treaded yourself”. 

Karen Armstrong is TED price winner 2008   and started the Charter for Compassion.  which isn’t a religious matter (alone) and is about educating and stimulating compassionate thinking.

The other video is also from TED but now from TEDxAmsterdam of Rabbi Soetendorp who, because of absence of one of the planned speakers, completely unprepared was asked if he could fill in the gap in the program.
He stood on stage and blew away the audience with a very personal and emotional story, and wrapped up referring to The Charter for Compassion


Overlooking my work, the conversations, the research and all of the other great things happened over the last say 15 months, these two video’s made allmost all the other pieces left on the tabel to fit in. Compassion is the key.

It will be my goal to create, stimulate, enhance and strengthen Participatory Healthcare with educating and stimulating Compassion in our own Academic Hospital (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) in- and outside of it.

One of the ways to et this up ad running is to inspire people. April 4th, 2011 we (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) will be organizing TEDxMaastricht, “Starring the future of Medicine”, with a lot of com-passion, inspiration, drive and hopefully  igniting better healthcare.

There are still a few remaining JigSaw pieces on the table 😉

I quoted Fransis in an earlier blogpost of mine, but will do this again, since it best resembles what has te be done next IMHO :

Start with the essentials. Then do the possible. 

And then suddenly you just do the impossible.

PS Update : March 31st, 2010 : Wrote about my “dream” for healthcare.