Utrecht innovators make healthcare fit for the future

Three years ago, the Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER) sounded the alarm: growing health worker shortages are threatening healthcare quality. The SER and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport believe that innovative digital technology is urgently needed to improve healthcare efficiency. ROM Utrecht Region recently interviewed two local companies leading the way in digitally transforming the sector. We wanted to know how they view their impact on the Dutch health system and see the future of healthcare and why they chose Utrecht region.

15 November 2023 6 minutes

There are approximately 1.4 million people employed in the healthcare sector in the Netherlands. However, it is projected that more than two million health workers will be needed by 2040. This translates to 25% of the Dutch workforce. Utrecht-based healthcare technology companies Performation and NEXUS are developing solutions to increase efficiency, enabling healthcare organisations to do more with less staff. We asked the two companies about their impact and their opinions on opportunities in the region.

Innovations and impact

Based in Bilthoven, Performation helps hospitals organise their work processes more effectively with digital tools, data and advice. “By using smart data analytics and algorithms, we are able to recognise relevant patterns and make reliable predictions to support health professionals”, explains CEO Huub Deterd. “For example, our software can identify how many beds are needed at any given time and how to optimise staff capacity. By unlocking relevant information, we help hospitals make more effective decisions so that they can provide quality care to more patients with the same capacity.”

“Hospitals always have more beds than staff.”
—  Huub Deterd, CEO Performation

“This is essential”, says Deterd, “because hospitals are facing a permanent shortage of specialists, assistants and nurses. They always have more beds than staff. One moment it’s too crowded; the next, capacity is not fully utilised. And, all the while, the overall demand for care is growing faster than the system can handle.”

Performation’s digital tools allow hospital departments to work together more effectively, preventing underutilisation of capacity. “We act as the connecting link between departments, enabling them to optimise the distribution and coordination of admissions, transfers and discharges”, explains Deterd.

Electronic medical records

The electronic medical record (EMR) system is another digital innovation that helps healthcare providers work more efficiently. This digital platform facilitates the remote exchange of patient information. An EMR gives health professionals from different organisations or departments more comprehensive information on patients, saves time during the medical admissions process and provides patients with better insight into their care.

“We rely on highly specialised staff with expertise in both IT systems and care processes.”
—  Fred Hiddinga, Managing Director NEXUS Nederland

Freedom of choice

Based in Vianen, NEXUS Nederland develops EMRs used in hospital departments, healthcare institutions and medical rehabilitation centres. Unlike similar solutions, NEXUS provides an open system that can exchange data with any other system in use at a healthcare organisation.

“We have a reputation for offering our clients more freedom of choice”, says Managing Director Fred Hiddinga. “Our platform can connect and integrate software from other providers relatively easily, so you don’t have to purchase an entire new system from us. We give our clients the flexibility to keep using certain software or tailor it to their needs.”

Business climate and opportunities in Utrecht region

The two healthcare innovators emphasise Utrecht region’s favourable business climate, primarily due to its central location. “We rely on highly specialised staff with expertise in both IT systems and care processes”, notes Hiddinga. “Even before current labour market shortages, these experts were difficult to find. And we are always in need of new talent to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement. Vianen is easily accessible from all directions, making us a more attractive employer.”

Employees and partners

The same goes for Performation. Deterd says, “We currently have about 160 brilliant people on board, but we’re always on the lookout for more talent with the right knowledge and data skills. Our convenient location not only makes us attractive to employees from all over the country but also helps us find and retain clients and business partners.”

Performation works closely with the Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation (IKNL), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Dutch national health service (GGD GHOR), which all have headquarters in the city of Utrecht.

Future of digital healthcare

Performation has been a data-driven company for more than 25 years, and NEXUS is active in 25 countries worldwide. But, even for these pioneers, keeping on top of technological innovation is a challenge.

“Data sharing in personal health environments has now become standard”, says Hiddinga. “Patients have increasing influence over the care they receive and better insight into their medical records. While this saves time for healthcare providers, it also leads to stricter laws and regulations that must be complied with. There is also a significant need to centralise the many different systems currently in use.”

“Data can tell you an awful lot, but only if you use it in a smart way.”
 — Huub Deterd, CEO Performation


Innovation as a driver of change

Innovations in digital healthcare and the technology landscape are keeping both companies on their toes. Hiddinga says, “We need to evolve faster and faster to stay ahead. This means we require more highly specialised experts.”

Given the growing labour shortages in the healthcare sector, Deterd expects competition for good data analysts to only increase in the next few years: “Data can tell you an awful lot, but only if you use it in a smart way. It can be used to schedule specialists more effectively and better support patients remotely with digital solutions and home monitoring. By streamlining complex healthcare processes, hospitals can treat more patients without compromising quality of care.”

ROM Utrecht Region helps companies stay ahead

The two companies agree that ROM Utrecht Region can play a key role in addressing these challenges. “ROM Utrecht Region’s support is invaluable to SMEs like us”, says Deterd. “It provides us with access to knowledge, networks and funding information.”

Hiddinga adds, “ROM Utrecht Region drives knowledge sharing in the region, keeps us informed of relevant events and connects us with potential partners.”

Both Deterd and Hiddinga arrive at the same conclusion — in a rapidly changing market, ROM Utrecht Region helps them stay ahead of the game.

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