On September 24, 150 people attended AmCham Belgium’s virtual event Towards Integrated Care in Belgium, which officially kicked off our Year of Healthcare – an initiative driven by AmCham Belgium’s Innovative Healthcare Committee (IHC) which will offer healthcare-focused activities until June 2021. Through the Year of Healthcare events and publications, AmCham Belgium aims to showcase the role and importance of international healthcare companies in Belgium and support the IHC’s ultimate goal of contributing to the creation of a sustainable and innovative healthcare ecosystem.
During the Year of Healthcare launch event, the IHC had the opportunity to present its new policy document with eight concise and actionable recommendations to progress towards a truly integrated care system in Belgium. These recommendations are the result of a series of interviews which took place with more than 20 different organizations in Belgian healthcare, ranging from patient organizations to health officials. With the recent formation of Belgium’s new Federal Government and a definite need to redesign our healthcare system, this document has now become more relevant than ever.
Olivia Natens, Country Director Medtronic Benelux and Chair of the IHC, opened the event by giving some background information on the IHC and its new policy recommendations. She concluded that “once more, our round of interviews has proven that innovation and collaboration will be key to moving towards integrated care.” That is exactly what the Year of Healthcare is about: building bridges between different organizations, companies and governments in Belgium.
After this brief introduction, Céline Mostade took the floor. As Coordinator of Chronilux, one of the Belgian integrated care pilot projects, she shared the ins and outs of her organization’s integrated care journey in the Province of Luxembourg. After that, Marie Van de Putte, Coordinator of Zorgzaam Leuven, did the same for her project on the other side of the language border. Both speakers gave a good overview of the huge potential of integrated care, but also the pitfalls and lessons learned from the pilot projects.
The keynote speaker, Liesbeth Borgermans, Professor of Primary Care and Public Health at the University of Ghent, then put integrated care in an international perspective, showcasing some interesting examples from Scotland, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, Canada and Spain. According to Professor Borgermans, Belgium needs comprehensive disruptive change in order to truly achieve integrated care.
Following these presentations, Bart Schelfhout, Public Affairs Manager at Sanofi and IHC member, highlighted the eight policy recommendations featured in the IHC’s new publication:
- Install an overarching integrated care facilitator responsible for coordination and alignment with facilitators at national, regional and local levels and across disciplines.
- Set targets for the chronic patient population that will benefit from integrated care by 2024.
- Align regional and national funds to finance infrastructure and scale up integrated care projects.
- Revise the education curricula and training to support healthcare workers and health educators in achieving multidisciplinary integrated care.
- Build a strategic vision on the use of integrated care pathways (across the levels of care) that enables increased efficiency and coordination.
- Create a single interoperable electronic health record, accessible and adapted to the needs of the patient, primary care teams, hospital specialists, psychologists, social workers and other health partners.
- Empower patients by ensuring that adequate resources for integrated care are within reach and giving them tools to effectively use the resources.
- Create incentives for health actors to embrace integrated care
The recommendations were then reviewed in a panel discussion, moderated by Bart Schelfhout, with Tom Verhaeghe from the Federal Public Service Health, Margot Cloet from Zorgnet-Icuro and Céline Mostade from Chronilux. They all agreed on the relevance of the IHC’s new policy recommendations, which clearly identified some of the challenges first-line stakeholders are facing and proposed further steps. All panelists also confirmed the need to learn from the existing pilot projects and to act quickly in order to take integrated care to the next level. Indeed, they noted that the COVID-19 crisis had disrupted chronic care, so integrated care could be an important part of the solution.
The IHC would like to thank its members, the attendees and the speakers for a very successful and inspiring event to kick off the Year of Healthcare. The Committee looks forward to further engaging with all stakeholders in its next activities which will include:
- October 27, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.: Healthy Working, an event hosted by AG Insurance in cooperation with AmCham Belgium’s Human Capital and Talent Committee.
- November: Panel discussion on the future of bio-manufacturing and the importance of talent acquisition and retention.
- December: Event on clinical trials and innovation.
- March 2021: Launch of AmCham Belgium’s report on the Importance of Healthcare Companies and Innovation in Belgium.
- April 2021: Healthcare policy breakfast
- May 2021: Healthy cocktails networking event
- June 2021: Year of Healthcare - Concluding policy debate
About the author
Laura Moerman is Senior Communications Specialist at Medtronic, where she takes the lead for all public relations and communications matters.