08 June 2016
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Health-RI partner in first Dutch health deal

Gerrit Meijer, Professor of Pathology (left) and Ruben Kok, Managing Director DTL.


Dutch Ministers Schippers (Health) and Kamp (Economic Affairs) and many other parties signed a ‘Health Deal’ on June 8, 2016. This Health Deal aims to bridge the innovation gap that exists in personalized medicine and health, focusing on decision support systems in oncology as a use case.

Currently, a structured and controlled embedding in the Dutch care system of newly developed medical treatments and technologies is lacking. In order to contribute to optimal availability of medical information, an ecosystem for Decision Support Systems (DSS) in oncology will be developed via this Health Deal. A high quality personalized medicine & health research infrastructure is crucial to achieve this. For that reason the Dutch Health-Research Infrastructure initiative (HealthRI) is committed to the Health Deal and was one of the signatories. The systematic approach of this Health Deal will also be applicable to the introduction of other innovations, such as genomics and imaging.

The HealthRI initiative of BBMRI-NL, DTL/ELIXIR-NL and EATRIS-NL is supported by the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), Health~Holland, NKI and many other stakeholders, and aims to realize one national infrastructure for personalized medicine & health research. Via HealthRI pseudonymized medical data, samples, imaging and research technology will be available for researchers in the most effective way. In doing so, optimal transparency, privacy, data stewardship and patient security must be guaranteed at all times. Patient organizations will be closely involved.

Gerrit Meijer, Scientific Director of BBMRI-NL and national director of EATRIS-NL: ‘The Health Deal focuses on the innovation gap: How can we validate innovations, such as the decision support system of this first Health Deal, so that these can be embedded in established science or practice and therefore will be reimbursed? For this validation we need a well-oiled machine. So far, for each innovation a new wheel is being invented. Most of the time this ‘wheel’ proves to be unsuccessful. As a consequence, many innovations only reach the ‘proof of concept’ phase and are not been implemented into clinical practice.’
Gerrit Meijer, Head of Pathology in the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), fulfills the role of the ‘traît d’union’. He makes the connection between the development within the Health Deal to other national and European initiatives. Gerrit highlights an example of his connecting role: ‘In the Health Deal the necessary well-oiled machine is called the ‘ecosystem’. It is precisely this ecosystem that we are already building on for several years. We are building on HealthRI, the national infrastructure for personalized medicine & health research, with many organizations like BBMRI-NL, DTL/ELIXIR-NL, EATRIS, TraIT, Data4LifeSciences. It is fantastic that via the Health Deal innovations and ecosystem now come together.’

Ruben Kok, Director of Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (DTL): ‘HealthRI will connect local resources within the Dutch network to international knowledge into a national flagship infrastructure program that contributes to personalized medicine & health. In it, optimal citizen participation is one of the focal points. HealthRI will also reduce costs for all participating organizations, while enhancing quality and reproducibility of research and care. The Decision Support Systems in oncology, being the objective of the first Dutch Health Deal, will be one of the first disease areas that benefit from HealthRI.’