On 1 November, more than 350 medical professionals, MedTech companies, researchers, policymakers and students came together at the TechMed Event 2023 organised by the Technical Medical Centre from the University of Twente.
Healthcare is crucial but significantly contributes to environmental issues, such as 7% of CO2 emissions, 4% of waste, and 13% of resources in the Netherlands. Climate change affects public health, and sustainability is vital for the future of healthcare. The TechMed Event 2023 explored the role of the MedTech sector in this context."
During the opening, participants had the opportunity to enjoy a remarkable performance by Merlijn Twaalfhoven. Merlijn took the audience on a meditative journey, where we both looked back at generations before us and looked ahead to future generations. He encouraged us to think creatively about what a good life might mean for someone yet to be born.
In his keynote, Maarten van Aalst gave many examples of how climate change affects our health. These are not only direct impacts such as deaths from heat waves and floods, but also indirect impacts.
The event offered a five-stage personalised program, featuring 15 sessions and over 40 speakers. Topics ranged from AI (Artificial Intelligence), the Staffing Crisis, Life Long Learning and organ-on-a-chip to eHealth. There were several discussions centred on sustainable healthcare. This included a circular economy for health, the Green Deal and the challenges posed by climate change on healthcare and vice versa. People could also take part in various tours at the TechMed Centre and the Health Labs on the Campus, where demonstrations of innovation and research were presented.
The Niers Fund eHealth Voucher was also awarded to student Floor Lieverse for 'The Diabook.' This is an interactive audio book designed to support a healthy lifestyle for individuals with limited health literacy and Type 2 Diabetes. The University Fund Twente makes this voucher available annually to a bachelor, master or PhD student or young alumnus with an innovative idea for a solution in the field of eHealth.
At the end of the day, Professor Dr Diederik Gommers from Erasmus MC took the floor. He expressed his concern about the critical shortage of healthcare personnel. By 2031, it is expected that there will be a shortage of as many as 140,000 healthcare professionals. Drawing from the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, he presented numerous insights to improve the healthcare sector. Gommers emphasized the need to focus on the job satisfaction of healthcare workers, reduce administrative burdens, implement a more effective centralised planning system, and promote technological innovations in healthcare. In his keynote, Gommers placed special emphasis on the theme of sustainability. He stressed the importance of collaborating to establish new guidelines that prioritise sustainability. Gommers illustrated this with a compelling example of the enormous amount of waste generated each day for just one patient in the intensive care unit.
Finally, Gommers expressed his confidence in the younger generation, given the sense of urgency surrounding these issues.
During the TechMed event, the TechMed Centre launched a new issue of their magazine. This magazine is full of examples of regional, national, and international MedTech innovations. Like the TechMed event, the magazine pays plenty of attention to pressing sustainability, climate, and health issues.
The TechMed Event 2023 successfully brought together a diverse group of stakeholders. It highlighted the potential of medical technologies to transform global healthcare while advocating for a sustainable future. The event paved the way for a healthier and more eco-conscious world for future generations through knowledge sharing and collaboration.