What is your day-to-day work like? How do you help improve or save people's lives through your work?
I’m an orthopaedic surgeon working at Reinier de Graaf hospital in Delft; I’ve been working here since 2005. A large teaching hospital, I specialise in hip surgery, hip arthroplasty and hip revision. I also work in traumatology.
I perform around 300 hip replacements a year. The majority of my patients are elderly although I still perform surgeries on the relatively young, patients who suffer from severe arthritis at a young or have congenital deformities in the hip.
My job is very rewarding. Patients come in to the hospital with significant hip pain and have a limited range of motion or sometimes are even completely immobile. Hip replacement surgery transforms their health and quality-of-life and to see this transformation is really satisfying.
What do you think are the key challenges facing the healthcare system and your profession in particular?
For healthcare, it’s without doubt the growing healthcare costs. Fortunately in the Netherlands, we somehow have been able to reduce costs and the healthcare budget has more or less stabilised, bucking the trend compared to other EU Member States. Tremendous efforts and cost-cutting measures have been put in place in order to reduce the budget; however, such cost reduction has made it difficult to innovate and bring new techniques to improve patient treatment, care and outcomes.
As an orthopaedic surgeon, one of the major challenges is to enhance our patient focus and improve healthcare to be more patient-centred in its approach. We’ve come a long way but there’s still a lot to do. More connectedness in healthcare such as high-quality apps are a great way of being more patient-focused but we can improve further.
What role do you see for medical technologies to address these challenges?
Innovative, high-quality medtech can help to tackle these challenges. The ability to use technology to place quality, durable prosthetics in a comfortable and stable position can enhance a fast recovery for patients post-surgery and significantly improve their quality-of-life and long-term outcomes. Such quick turnaround time in terms of hospital stay and recovery is an important way of tackling high healthcare system costs.
If you had one ask to the industry, what would it be?
The medtech industry have actually been doing a lot and have increasingly brought more patient-centred technologies to the market. Something the industry needed to address was constantly introducing new updates of their technologies all the time. This practice has started to stabilise; companies are realising that if they bring updated devices they need to do so in an evidence-based manner and with a step-wise approach, focusing on the value these new tech bring to the healthcare system and to patients
If you had one ask to the decision-makers, what would it be?
Decision-makers and healthcare budget-holders disourage the use of new technological innovations but we badly need them. Instead of being able to use the latest technologies therefore improve patient care, the government is limiting access to the cheaper devices. However, I believe these new devices are an investment and will reap cost-saving benefits in the long-term as patients can recover quicker and get back to living their life again.
What would you want to see/what is your vision for the care of your patients in the future and healthcare overall?
I hope that the number of total hip replacements will eventually reduce and we can identify other ways to treat patients, as such surgery is complex. As the population increasingly ages and there is an increase in co-morbidities, patient-centred treatment is crucial.