Once again, the Pioneers in Health Care (PIHC) innovation fund has awarded €660,000 to research projects in the eastern Netherlands. The purpose of this innovation fund – a joint venture of University of Twente, Saxion, Medical Spectrum Twente, Deventer Hospital and Ziekenhuisgroep Twente – is to encourage long-term partnerships between the world of new technologies and current medical practice. Reggeborgh has once again made a contribution to give a positive impulse to regional healthcare. The main aim is to apply new technologies in healthcare that will lead to better, more patient-friendly care.
Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality and smart sensors
The fund received 32 applications this year and 11 research teams were honoured with a voucher. The projects intend to develop innovative technological solutions involving AI, virtual reality and smart sensors, among others. It’s now up to each research team to test the feasibility of their ideas so they can be further developed and evaluated. For example, they will be looking at how AI can be used to analyse big data sets taken from brain scans or blood flow tests, so that the results are available faster and with less input from the medical expert. This will make healthcare more efficient and more cost-efficient. Virtual reality is being studied as part of a home-care plan for patients with chronic pain or to help patients prepare for a new lifestyle after a major operation. Other research evaluates how to best exploit new innovations in the areas of microbiotics, microsurgery, and minimally invasive magnetic surgical robots. All these projects will be carried out keeping the needs of the patients firmly in mind: will they be able to cope with the new technology when conducting home testing or will it make their treatment in hospital less stressful?
PIHC awarded the vouchers for the eighth time on 24 January. “We all feel the challenges we face in healthcare”, says ZGT director of the board Hilde Dijstelbloem. “Especially during these last two years, since COVID entered our lives, our healthcare system has been under immense pressure. There is an increasing demand but decreasing availability of professionals. This underscores the necessity of innovative technological solutions for treatment and a transformation of our healthcare system. It’s a task that we can only accomplish collectively. Our investment in PIHC represents our contribution to establishing new multidisciplinary teams and finding new ideas to deal with this enormous task.”
Dr Mirre de Noo, director of Reggeborgh Medical: “Given our interest in social issues and our roots in Twente, we are eager to contribute to innovation in this region. Our particular interest is innovation in the healthcare field. Reggeborgh participated in PIHC for the first time last year, and it’s really nice to see that the first results are very promising. It’s actually in the regional character of PIHC and the partnering of the various hospitals with UT and Saxion that we see an excellent opportunity for making a positive contribution to healthcare in the eastern Netherlands. It’s important to us that talent is retained in our region, which means that everyone in Twente and Salland will be able to benefit from innovations in medical care for years to come.
Project manager for the PIHC fund Jojanneke Schuiling-Jukes, associated with University of Twente’s TechMed Centre: “Every year it’s extremely inspiring to see how enthusiastic the researchers and clinicians are about working together to improve healthcare. This year again we saw lots of new names and lots of new research topics, so there are plenty of pioneers present in the region who want to find ways of using technology in healthcare – in your own home or in hospital – for prevention, diagnosis, treatment or recovery.”