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Foreword of the Executive Board

“Creating the healthcare of tomorrow together”

2022 was a good year with many innovations. It was also the year in which we introduced important movements and changes. The first few months of the year still stood in the shadow of COVID-19. After that we marked time for a while and then started the movement of ‘the healthcare of tomorrow’. With this movement we are guaranteeing and increasing the value that we want to add to our patients’ lives, as well as our contribution to a healthy society and efficient healthcare.

The healthcare of tomorrow

The Netherlands has a highly developed healthcare and we at UMC Utrecht are proud to be contributing thereto. The quality, accessibility and affordability of care are however under pressure. The demand for care is increasing and continuously becoming more complex, due also to an aging population. At the same time, their are limits to the availability of care due to growing labor shortages as well as budgets for healthcare. Working together is the only way in which we can ensure suitable care as well as a healthy society. It was for these reasons that an integral healthcare agreement or Integraal Zorgakkoord (IZA) was signed at the end of September 2022, and that the Healthcare of tomorrow got off the ground.

Quote: “With the healthcare of the Tomorrow movement we are guaranteeing and increasing the value that we want to add to our patients’ lives, as well as our contribution to a healthy society and efficient healthcare

In the healthcare of Tomorrow movement we are taking a two-track approach. The first is about which care we should deliver in our academic institution as such, and which care we could offer together with chain partners or could have delivered through a chain partner. And how we as a knowledge institution can make a contribution through our research and education to create the healthcare of tomorrow. With the second track, we are looking at how we can make the best use of our capacity in terms of material and human resources. And how we can streamline our processes to ensure clarity and thereby also leave room for individual customization for our patients and people. This also includes remote care, digital at the patient’s home if possible, and in the hospital if necessary.

Together we decide which care is the most appropriate.

An important aspect in making a real difference through our care, is cooperation with our patients. Every patient is a person with their own values and preferences, and their own ideas on quality of life. That is why we want to get to know our patients as people, understand them, and together decide about the most suitable care. To help our colleagues as well as our patients and their families conduct this personal dialog effectively, we started a campaign  in 2022 in which we offer tips and tools to do so. 

 In terms of giving patients the best possible care, we also gave our full attention to heart care in 2022. Following the decision of former Health Minister De Jonge at the end of 2021 to centralize operations on children with a congenital heart defect, and highly complex operations on adults with a congenital heart defect, at Erasmus MC and UMC Utrecht, extensive discussions ensued regarding the locations. UMC Utrecht is in favor of centralization for highly complex care and considers that the choice for UMC Utrecht among others will lead to optimal accessibility of healthcare for patients with congenital heart defects.

In the interest of all patients who need it, we therefore endeavored in 2022 to keep this care at UMC Utrecht.. Unfortunately without the desired result. Minister Kuipers informed UMC Utrecht on April 13 of his final decision to concentrate operations for congenital heart defects in Rotterdam and Groningen. We are very disappointed about this decision, as it undermines the successful concentration of care and research for all children with cancer in the Netherlands at the Princess Máxima Center, and does not advance optimal accessibility to healthcare. We therefore see ourselves, together with the Princess Máxima Center, as being forced to take legal steps against this decision.

Investing in our people

The ability to provide care - now and in the future - of course stands or falls with the input of all our people. We therefore find it important that they should be healthy, enjoy their work, and keep up their energy. That they should be able to grow and have a perspective on the career that they are striving for. And that we as employer must contribute to this and support them therein. Together with our nursing staff, we are for instance investing in the nursing profession with our program ‘The future-proof nurse ’. As part of this program in 2022 for example we developed career tracks for our nursing staff.

Innovative research

An indispensable part of giving shape to the healthcare of tomorrow is our scientific research. Researchers and doctors doctors at UMC Utrecht in 2022 for instance worked on a new form of stem-cell therapy for newborns who contracted brain damage due to a cerebral infarction.  Another example is the large-scale research project Check@home  that was started. This study investigates whether home-testing can allow the timely detection of cardiovascular diseases, kidney disorders or diabetes among people aged 50 to 75. The study is an initiative of the Dutch Heart Foundation, the Dutch Kidney Foundation, the Dutch Diabetes Fund, and the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance (DCVA).

The care professional of tomorrow

The actual healthcare of tomorrow will be bought and further developed by the care professional of the future. We are proud to say that, together with The New Utrecht School, we are training the healthcare professionals of the future. To do this, we are focusing on inter-professional and multidisciplinary training. September 2022 for instance saw the launching of the new bachelor degree in Care, Health and Society, and the new master’s degree in Medical Humanities . Students are also once again taking on innovative interdisciplinary challenges . We are also happy to say that our bachelor course in Medicine once again received the Excellence label as a top-quality training course from the selection guide to universities or Keuzegids in 2022.

 War in Ukraine and CLA

 The war in Ukraine naturally also had a significant impact on our people and our organization. And in particular of course on our colleagues with family or other ties in Ukraine or Russia. But everyone noticed the effect of the war with inflation, high energy costs, and shortages in certain products. Together with the Staff Fund we also set up a Helpline for colleagues to help those on the verge of financial problems or who might be in need of medical, psychological or social support. This helpline continues to exist in 2023. The new CLA that became applicable on January 1, 2022 fortunately brought improvements for example regarding people’s remuneration. Developments in Ukraine and Russia as well as the new CLA will also put our organization before considerable financial challenges in the coming years.

In the coming years

Big challenges are lying ahead for us in the next few years. We will have to work even smarter, more effectively and more efficiently to keep healthcare accessible. But with all the innovations in 2022 and the years before, and the healthcare of Tomorrow movement, we have a solid base for the future. Thanks to this, we as ‘UMC Utrechters’ as well as our patients and regional, national and international partners  will also in the coming years work together with heart and soul to improve people’s health and bring about the healthcare of tomorrow. Together we create more value, because every human being counts.

Executive Board of UMC Utrecht,
Margriet Schneider
Arno Hoes
Josefien Kursten
Remco van Lunteren