We launched our long-awaited Year of Healthcare, an initiative of our Innovative Healthcare Committee (IHC), in September 2020. It was originally set to start with a series of physical events a few months before, but the global COVID-19 pandemic forced us – like many others – to change our plans and adapt. In spite of its devastating consequences, the outbreak was also a clear reminder of how important health and healthcare are for everyone. The IHC therefore decided to go ahead and organize the Year of Healthcare, mostly in an online format.
The overall goal was to help build a long-term sustainable and innovative healthcare ecosystem for patients in Belgium while further strengthening Belgium’s position as a global leader in healthcare and bringing together the broad healthcare stakeholder community in Belgium. Throughout the Year, we addressed a series of topics, identified by the IHC, which are driving the discussion about the future of healthcare and the role of international companies in the Belgian healthcare (eco)system.
Chronic care tends to be disease-centric rather than patient-centric, and there is often little collaboration between health actors, which results in suboptimal patient care. Integrated Care implies coordination and strong collaboration among all healthcare actors, from primary care to rehabilitation, with the patients’ needs placed at the center.
We started the Year of Healthcare with the presentation of our new report Moving towards Integrated Care in Belgium. This report was the outcome of more than a year of hard work in the IHC’s Integrated Care Subcommittee, which met with more than 20 different stakeholders in order to come up with eight actionable recommendations. During an online event, experts took the floor to discuss our recommendations and how to truly make Integrated Care a reality for Belgian patients.
Rates of long-term absenteeism from work have doubled in the past 20 years, often at a significant cost to employers. While absenteeism is influenced by both personal and work context factors, companies can address the latter by fostering a healthy working environment for their employees.
The IHC and our Human Capital and Talent Committee joined forces for a discussion on healthy working. They examined the root causes of the problem, while experts from AG Insurance, the co-organizer of the event, shared insights into different solutions they have developed to address the issue.
Belgium is well-known for its strength in biotechnology research and innovation, but equally important for its ambition to become a true biotech valley is biomanufacturing.
We asked the question: is Belgium ready for the future of biomanufacturing? Panelists from Sanofi, Takeda, ViTalent and the Cabinet of Secretary of State Thomas Dermine discussed Belgium’s assets in biomanufacturing and how to make the sector “future-proof”, for instance by massively investing in training and education and by improving the collaboration between all stakeholders.
Value-based healthcare (VBHC) challenges traditional healthcare models through a shift from volume to value: measuring the health outcomes delivered to patients, rather than the type or quantity of treatments.
Our event on VBHC, organized in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Medical, served as a call to action to all relevant stakeholders to join forces and work towards the concrete implementation of value-based healthcare in Belgium. Our panelists shared their views on the current hurdles, such as the healthcare financing system, which is preventing that shift from volume to value.
Belgium is the preferred location for clinical trials for many international healthcare companies, a critical step in the development of new medical treatments.
The IHC focused on clinical trials and their importance for patients in Belgium (and beyond). Various stakeholders representing the Anderlecht-based Pfizer Clinical Research Unit, the Cabinet of the Minister of Health as well as the Belgian regulator, explained why Belgium is a leading country for clinical trials and what is being done in the field to maintain our country’s advantage.
Importance of Healthcare Companies in Belgium
Finally, in October 2021, we concluded our Year of Healthcare with the first in-person event of the Year! We launched our new report on The Importance of Healthcare Companies in Belgium at Orsi Academy, a state-of-the-art (medical) robotic training center near Ghent. The event featured a visit of the premises and also a panel discussion reflecting on the IHC’s new policy recommendations.
Overall, despite the COVID-19 limitations and restrictions, the Year of Healthcare was extremely successful, drawing hundreds of attendees to high-quality events, allowing our members to network – be it online or in person – and to learn more about some of the most pressing healthcare issues of today (and tomorrow). It also strengthened our Innovative Healthcare Committee’s voice in the public debate thanks to the participation and attendance of various stakeholders (representing hospitals, patient organizations, sick funds, etc.). Additionally, it put the spotlight on the important role international healthcare companies play in Belgium, for instance by developing innovative solutions, exporting their products around the globe, etc.
AmCham Belgium would like to thank its Innovative Healthcare Committee and all member companies which made the organization of the Year of Healthcare a real success and an important milestone in the history of the IHC. Stay tuned for more healthcare-related activities as we seek to continue this positive momentum!