Small changes for people with long-term care needs have big impacts. Jorrit Ebben believes technology has the power to create those changes. And he is on a mission to deliver.
Technology that Improves Patient Care
Ebben is co-founder and chief strategy and innovation officer of Academy Het Dorp, a digital transformation consultancy in the Netherlands. He’s on a personal mission to make technology more useful in long-term healthcare.
“My CEO and I saw a need to help healthcare organizations access much more helpful technology and to improve the validation of the technology in cooperation with patients. For me, doing this has become a way of life,” Ebben says.
In his work with healthcare organizations, Ebben noticed smaller companies facing a particular challenge. “We see many smaller healthcare companies in the Netherlands struggle to implement health technology,” says Ebben. “More than the big players, they lack the time and skills to explore what it can really do.”
Other issues range from legacy infrastructure unable to cope with new technology to the cultural shift of a technology-enabled healthcare delivery model.
“For healthcare professionals and patients alike, the new way is completely different,” Ebben says. “We’ve gone from people relying on other people to help them live their lives to trusting technology to deliver some of that support.”
In Ebben’s experience, trust is still being earned. “We see many start-ups bringing technology to market that isn’t good enough. The intent is to help people, but they don’t know how to validate their technology.”
Ebben believes more regulation is necessary. He supports the European medical device regulation coming in 2020. He hopes these measures will facilitate good technology and keep the rest from the market. He also believes developers need to think more about people.
“The engineers want to make really, really cool technology. But what they deliver is technology-in-a-box. They forget about cooperation with the patient and healthcare provider. That cooperation is how you learn what to develop, test in real life, and refine based on performance,” Ebben says.
The Challenge of Personalization
Technology integration is another area of focus for Ebben and his team. “Ten years ago, a patient with long-term needs had one piece of technology from one provider to deliver care in their home. Now, they have many technologies from many start-ups. Integrating them into one solution for each patient need is a big challenge.”
The challenge isn’t just for technology teams, either. “For a healthcare professional, the ‘plug and play’ everyone talks about is ‘plug and, oh my god, it will never play,’” Ebben says.
Many health tech companies acknowledge they need to do more to make integration easy, both with other solutions and existing infrastructure. Last year, Academy Het Dorp set up a program for the Dutch Ministry of Welfare and Heath to support over 40 long-term healthcare organizations with these sorts of digital transformation issues.
Embracing the Future
The program reinforced Ebben’s belief that successful companies invest in helping healthcare and IT embrace the new care model.
“As IT becomes increasingly core to healthcare delivery, it brings a lot of changes,” Ebben says. “Healthcare companies need to rethink what they can and cannot do, which competencies they need and how to leverage technology’s possibilities. They need to explore how they bring different kinds of technology from different healthcare organizations to that one home for that one person’s needs. That’s how we’ll change the world.”