Ask the patient

January 27, 2016
By Dr. Ton Hanselaar

It’s all over the papers: health care is our main concern! But we are stuck in a system in which the cost for care is one of the highest in the world! A new approach is needed; more money, more bedside care, extra care providers. Are these empty words, or is something really going wrong?

The solution begins with the patient. The fact is that today’s patient is a totally different patient from roughly twenty years ago. Today, patients are more empowered. They obviously still want to be healthy but now expect their doctor to be able to give them more detailed information than what they can find on the internet. They want to think together with their doctor, want to be taken seriously and want to be treated by the best physicians. Only then do they experience care as valuable, as something that has really helped.

Care given in this way could be the norm for patients in the year 2016. However, the truth is that many patients still feel that, once in the waiting room, they are an anonymous number of whom only a small part needs to be mended. Thankfully, there are initiatives that are centered around the patient and at the same time achieve very good care results. For example ParkinsonNet, the winner of the Value-Based Health Care Prize in 2015.


In 2004 patients with Parkinson’s disease made it clear that they wanted to be treated by professionals who were specifically trained in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. They wanted a multidisciplinary team that communicated with each other and involved patients in treatment decisions; clinicians who could truly empathize and care for the quality of their lives. Together with health insurers and others in the care chain, the initiators of ParkinsonNet, Bas Bloem and Marten Munneke, decided to focus on a selection of highly-motivated professionals, on training, standardization and communication.

Because of this change, and by determining which results were achieved through their care (e.g. reduction in number of falls, fractures, less admissions to hospitals or nursing homes, less rehabilitation treatments), doctors saw that the number of complications was reduced significantly. These changes have caused doctors and their teams to become highly motivated. They are now cooperating within a network of patients and healthcare professionals to ensure that the wishes of their patients are put into practice. The results are measurable: 50 percent fewer hip fractures, reduced costs, motivated care givers and very satisfied patients!

Added value

The strength of the value-based health care approach is that it is centered around the patient. The team of physicians that oversees each patient’s care process becomes inspired through the results that are booked. This is the essence of Value-Based Health Care, as Michael Porter, the Harvard economist, and his team have brought to the attention and have formulated as Patient Centered, Doctor Driven.

By working together in specialized teams, by focusing on what is best for the patient and his/her environment, the values of the patient become the true essence. It is not a coincidence that the theme of the third edition of the Value-Based Health Care Prize 2016, to be awarded on April 7th, is “Working together for Patient Value”.

Ton Hanselaar


Ton Hanselaar is a member of the Advisory Council of The Value-Based Health Care Prize and former chairman of the board of directors/CEO of Stichting Pantein