Medical Spectrum Twente (MST), the Twente Hospital Group (ZGT) and the University of Twente (UT) are partners in the ‘Pioneers in Health Care Innovation Fund’, which has now entered its second year. The health insurer Menzis is a new partner in the fund. The aim of the fund is to encourage collaboration between MST and ZGT medical specialists and researchers from UT’s MIRA research institute. These collaborative efforts are intended to result in new insights and technology that will serve to improve the effectiveness of patient care.
The four parties have jointly made an amount of €500,000 available, to be used to fund ten innovative projects at the interface of medicine and technology. Two of the ten projects will be fully funded by Menzis with Menzis Innovation Vouchers. The winning project proposals were announced at ZGT in Almelo on 26 November.
A total of 34 research proposals were submitted. They were assessed based on a number of factors, including the impact of the clinical problem, the technological challenges involved, the envisaged improvement to patient care, the degree of cooperation, and clinical applicability. Ten of the proposals were accepted and awarded a voucher. “The Pioneers in Health Care Fund bridges the gap between medical and technical researchers. The vouchers awarded to the winning proposals represent a financial stimulus to technical and scientific research into medical issues. The fund organizers engage in proactive matchmaking to get the right people together for the project at hand. In addition to addressing obvious challenges (‘low-hanging fruit’), we also endeavour to facilitate serendipity; in other words to encourage coincidental discoveries of real value,” explains Albert van den Berg, scientific director at the University of Twente’s MIRA research institute.
This kind of cooperation between a university of technology, hospitals in its vicinity and a health care insurer, in which investments are made in collaborative projects, is a fine example of how technical and medical excellence can enhance the position of the region. The main benefit for both MST and ZGT is that the projects will result in innovations that improve the efficacy of patient care. “As co-founders of this Innovation Fund, we feel that the fund will make a key contribution to the continuous improvement of the care we provide in our hospitals. Our patients will be the ultimate beneficiaries of these efforts.”
The Innovation Fund had a clear appeal to various parties over the course of the past year, including the health insurer Menzis, which joined the initiative as a partner. “This fund is an investment in the future for us. We at Menzis are pleased to be involved in ‘Pioneers in Health Care’, and we are very keen to support projects that will result in better and more affordable health care for people here in our own region, preferably in the short term. In addition to excellent clinical care, cooperation with GPs and other care providers is another key factor in this regard.”
Synergy between research and clinical practice is needed to ensure high-quality and affordable healthcare. The ambition therefore is to continue to work together on innovations, and to find new partners who would like to participate in the fund’s activities.
The eight Pioneers in Health Care Innovation vouchers were awarded to: 1: the point-of-care test for optimizing antibody therapy in autoimmune diseases: mAB-on-a-chip. 2: Photoacoustic imaging for the diagnosis and prognosis of diabetic foot pathologies.3: Improved diagnosis of post-operative pain as an aid following surgery. 4: An improved user interface for navigation and documentation of endoscopic operations, for example in the bladder. 5: The development of a new mask with incorporated sensor for the treatment of sleep apnea. 6: Self-management for young children with asthma through the use of serious gaming and other techniques. 7: Improve respiration in young children suffering from respiratory tract infections. 8: Better monitoring of severe traumatic brain injury.
The two Menzis innovation vouchers were awarded to 1: E-health in the early phase of cardiac rehabilitation as a tool for cardiologists to provide optimal support to their patients. 2: A new and simple method for GPs to use in the early detection of sleep apnea.