2020 PPB Healthcare

Now is the time to build the future of healthcare in Belgium

Joan Van Loon, Belux Enterprise Business Unit Leader Public, Life Sciences, Telco & Utilities, IBM Belgium

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has clearly emphasized the importance of our overall health and the vulnerability of our healthcare system. The high numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths have headlined the news, and images of exhausted healthcare workers are burnt into our memories. Healthcare organizations have been overwhelmed by the pandemic. Our society has been struggling with ever-changing rules, causing an immense impact on companies and their employees as well as the economy as a whole. All hope is now set on the COVID-19 vaccine, making pharma companies the center of attention.

However, hope is not a strategy and remains highly unpredictable. We need to use this crisis and what we have learned from it to develop a stable, predictable business environment, where companies can contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of Belgium.

At AmCham Belgium, we strongly believe that international companies should be part of the solution if we want Belgium to quickly recover from this crisis and achieve sustainable economic growth. More specifically, international companies working on innovative health stand ready to work with the Government to reform and optimize the patient-centered healthcare system.

Our ambition is to simplify healthcare management, with the patient as co-pilot, in order to reduce cost, eliminate waste and (re-)invest in innovation. Innovation must be supported by accurate, accessible data provided to experts in the field to help them build evidence-based healthcare solutions. Accelerated digitization of healthcare processes and further investment in people, skills and resources will be essential to foster innovation and to ensure that the right people are targeted with the right solutions.

From the COVID-19 crisis we have learned, among others, that a shift in focus and investment in integrated care is required to support our most vulnerable citizens, and that patient education and empowerment are crucial to influence citizen behavior.

To stimulate lifelong value-based health for all, in AmCham Belgium’s 2020 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium, we urge the Belgian Government to respond now with a future-proof strategic healthcare reform plan, focusing on a better patient experience, value-based innovation and a streamlined integrated care system. This is the only route to lifelong health for all.

AmCham Belgium recommends

To invest in the future healthcare

  • Act now and start transforming healthcare in close collaboration with all relevant industry stakeholders.
  • Digitize value-based healthcare with improved use of (real world) data, analytics and AI.
  • Build a foundation for innovation involving expertise from the field.
  • Stimulate life-long health for all by investing in health literacy, prevention and lifestyle programs.

AmCham Belgium’s Innovative Healthcare Committee, a cross-sectoral collaboration of healthcare companies with a strong focus on innovation, technology and digitization, stands ready to collaborate with all stakeholders in order to improve the Belgian healthcare system for patients. Through our Year of Healthcare activities, we aspire to raise awareness about the added value of international healthcare companies in Belgium. Our next events will focus on:

  • Value-based healthcare, organized in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson (February 2021)
  • Clinical trials and clinical research, organized in collaboration with Pfizer Belgium (early March 2021)

Alongside our events, in March 2021 we will launch the next Year of Healthcare publication showcasing the importance of healthcare companies in Belgium.

About the author

Joan Van Loon, Belux Enterprise Business Unit Leader Public, Life Sciences, Telco & Utilities, IBM Belgium

With degrees in Health Economics, Applied Economics and Nursing, Joan started his career as an economist for the Provinciaal Instituut voor Hygiëne in Antwerp. Four years later he entered the consulting world as Healthcare Consultant for Coopers & Lybrand, later PwC. After the global take-over of PwC Consulting by IBM, Joan held several management positions at IBM. Today he is Board Member of IBM Belux and Enterprise Sales Unit Director, responsible for Public Sector, Life Sciences, Telecommunications, Energy & Utilities. Next to that Joan is ambassador for IBM Watson AI and spokesperson for IBM Belgium.

Joan is a Vice-Chair of AmCham Belgium's Innovative Healthcare Committee.