Healthcare innovation: prevention is better than treatment

Zorg2025’s Healthcare Innovation Prize was formulated to celebrate the latest healthcare innovations in the Netherlands – products and services that can potentially have a huge impact on improving the quality of an individual’s life. During 2021’s preliminary regional round the prognosis was clear: maintaining health is preferable to having to cure disease.

On 9 February the Zorg2025 partnership presented the preliminary regional round for 2021’s National Healthcare Innovation Prize, hosted by the Amsterdam Economic Board’s Health Lead Jeroen Maas. The contenders from North Holland and Flevoland were: personalised nutritional programme Clear, digital care assistant Emmazorgt and automated medical scribe Attendi.

The winner of the preliminary regional round would advance to the final, whereas the publics favourite will win a final change to win a tickets for the finals, which will take place during the Health Valley Event on 11 March 2021.

‘When you win, you make friends’

“But it’s not about the money,” says Jeroen de Wilde, founder of ikHerstel, which won the regional jury prize in 2020. His e-Health app offers patients a clear overview of all relevant information before and after their surgery – helping to accelerate recovery time by nine to 12 days. Result: a drastic cut in costs and improved patient satisfaction.

“As the saying goes: ‘when you win, you make friends’,” says De Wilde. “We received a lot of attention after last year’s event, not only in terms of PR, but also in connecting us with tech partners, investors, legal advisors and hospitals where we could undertake more trials.”

“Now we’re ready for the world thanks to the network the prize gave us. And, actually, you don’t have to win to take advantage of this. All you have to do is join the innovation platform.”

And the nominee is… personalised diet recommendations

Madelon Bracke presents for the first nominee Clear, a personalised health programme that uses real-time glucose readings to give AI-driven nutritional recommendations, which can be used for disease management or to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Food is the single most important external factor for health and remaining healthy as you age. And the right glucose levels are as important as cholesterol or blood pressure levels,” says Bracke. “Dieting is unnecessary. There’s only your diet. And we want to help millions to be the healthiest version of themselves.”

And the nominee is… conversational AI for homecare

As managing partner of Ayuto, Marco Dees specialises in creating care buddies by using  conversational AI to amplify a sense of personal contact and help patients live independently and more safely at home for longer.

Ayuto’s digital care assistant Emmazorgt (‘Emma Attends’) works through Google smart speakers and allows anyone to stay in touch with their loved ones and caregivers. Eventually, it will also be able to manage treatments, promote a healthier lifestyle and reduce feelings of loneliness. “It’s about improving capacity and freeing up time for caregivers to give more personal care,” says Dees.

And the nominee is… voice recognition innovators

A quotation from Eric Topol, author of Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, forms the mission of the next nominee, Attendi. It states: “The greatest opportunity offered by AI is not reducing errors or workloads, or even curing cancer: it is the opportunity to restore the precious and time-honoured connection and trust – the human touch – between patients and doctors.”

In the same way that Emmazorgt wants to foster more personal connections through technology, Attendi seeks to use the conversation between patient and healthcare professional as a source of data to be included in a patient’s medical records – thereby leaving more time for more personal conversation. But the challenges in terms of technology and privacy remain daunting.

As co-founder Diederik de Rave says during his presentation: “There’s still a lot to do. We need to be patient.”

Healthcare innovation = collaboration

The jury represented a diverse cross-section of the care sector: Rocco van den Berg is innovation lead at startup accelerator Philips Ventures, Yoanette den Boer is head of IT, innovation and data at caregiver Amstelring, and Arianne van Lavieren is healthcare innovation advisor at insurance company Zilveren Kruis.

As the jury deliberated, Tom Nijsters of NLC – The European Healthtech Venture Builder gave a presentation that began with some bad news: 95% of all health-tech innovations never make it to market. This is due to several reasons, Nijsters explained – from lack of entrepreneurial drive to being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And that’s where NLC tries to help. “You have to be able to connect the dots,” says Nijsters. “You also need the awareness that healthcare innovation equals collaboration – always building the network. And this prize is a reflection that this approach works.”

And the winner is… health for all!

When the jury returns, Van Lavieren announces Clear as the clear winner. “All of the nominees were facing real challenges in their own way. But we all know that the best way to keep healthcare costs down is by keeping people healthy. That makes everyone happier.” The attending public then chose Emmazorgt as winner of the Wildcard.

About Zorg2025

Together with Ahti , Smart Health Amsterdam, Rabobank and SIGRA, the Amsterdam Economic Board organises the Zorg2025 meetings. They are aimed at bringing together healthcare and welfare professionals, industry, researchers and knowledge institutions in the field of health and prevention. The starting point is to share knowledge, new research and innovations.

Smart Health Amsterdam is the network for data- and AI-driven innovation in Amsterdam’s life sciences and health sector. Join our community here.

15 February 2021

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