Patient Safety

Last week I have made a presentation at the seminar “Surgical Education 2020”. Focus of my presentation was about patient safety and how to achieve this. Estimates are that yearly in the Netherlands alone 1200 people die because of avoidable errors. This means that each surgeon on average, at the end of his career, saw 5 people die because of an avoidable error he or she made. Continue reading “Patient Safety”

Show me your poo and I will tell you who you are

Some uses of social technologies and big data are really surprising. When you collect lots of information about DNA and diseases it is logical that you can identify certain DNA sequences that pose an extra risk.
I came across the site that I was really flabbergasted about. Our bodies contain almost 2 kilos of bacteria, mainly in our guts. We live with these batteries in symbiosis, we would not survive without them. However, imbalances between these bacterias and their context (us..) can lead to severe problem for many people. Bowel problems are for many people a constant and nagging problem. Continue reading “Show me your poo and I will tell you who you are”

Care for a Game

Loneliness is one of the big issues in elderly care, partly due big societal changes. 50 years ago most people died less than 15 kilometer from the place that they were born. This meant that families for the most part lived close together and had frequent contact with each other. Nowadays families often live all over the country. Distance is a big hurdle for intimate contact. Also, the loss of the church as the place where generations meet every Sunday is an important factor. It is much harder to ignore loneliness when you physically meet every week. Continue reading “Care for a Game”

To the stars and back again

For a project in eHealth I have adopted the speech from Kennedy where he pledges to focus many efforts in order to put a man on the moon. Because, as he says, “not because it is easy, but because it is hard

Looking at this speech is still amazing after all those years. Not just because of the eloquence of Kennedy but because of the idealistic spirit of a society that sets a goal and is willing to make great sacrifices in order to achieve that goal. I think in our age and time we have lost some of that willingness to put society first and the individual second.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

And of course, as he promised, this was the result on July 1969.

The future is old

We all know that in our western societies we have an age problem. We have more and more elderly and less and less young people. In many ways this is an achievement of our societies (who does not want to become old) but it poses us for new questions. When we get old, who will do the work needed?
You can calculate that in 2025 the workload per employee that takes care for elderly people will be twice as high. I think that is one of the challenges we have for the next decades.
ICT will be one of the means to deliver an answer to this challange. ICT to increase productivity (like care from a distance) but also ICT that gives more control to people so they can take care of themselves (e.g. with social media).
Last week we started a program focused around these two types of potential for ICT in the elderly care. In this program we bring together people from healthcare organizations, universities and companies ( During this kickoff we had around 50 people of management level together.
One of the interesting discussions we had was about the role of commercial companies. My statement is that we need commercial companies to grow from all kinds of well meant pilots to mature markets. Only in a mature market there will be technology available for everyone and not just in a subsidized pilot. In this discussion it was clear that in the world of care there is some tension between commerce and care. I hope with the Health-lab program we can lower the barriers between these worlds.

In the news

With the company ReMarketable we are working on a “Medical Data Recorder” for operating rooms. Just like the flight data recorder (aka the black box in a aeroplane). I The flight data recorder is an important aide in the safety culture of aviation since a) pilots know that all actions are recorded and can be reviewed and b) after an accident there is always objective and factual data on the condition how things went wrong. There is of course a difference between pilots and surgeons. However, the way the safety and quality culture can be enhanced looks very much the same. A medical data recorder will play an important role in this.
Today an article is published in Spits about the medical black box and a radio interview was held with us on Radio 1 at the AVRO.
You can find the article here.


Because so much of our activities in our daily lives have some form of connection to the Internet some amazing effects happen. Google recently launched a service where they track flu related queries that people are using in their searches. Analysing their data back to 2003 and comparing it to the CDC network they found that they can pinpoint the start of a flu epidemic two weeks earlier than the CDC. They can even follow the spread of the flu geographically (at least, in the USA).
This is I think an amazing example of how we can use this kind of implicit “wisdom of crowds” type of ideas. considering the risk of the swine flu epidemic in Mexico this might come in handy… The flow of the epidemic can be followed in Google maps.
More information you can find in the Nature article and of course on the Google website.

Aging 0.5

The aging society is I think one of the big issues that as society we will have to deal with in the future. We do know that there will simply be not enough hands to help the aging people in a way that is personnel. Technology can help a lot but has the risk of creating a too mechanical care. A special lift can help you out of bed but will not talk to you.
That is why I like projects where technology helps us by connecting people and give care in a way that is friendly and personnel. Like this project or this. In the second project my favourite moment was when the elderly lady is told that there is a camera in the Aibo and here reaction is: oh nice, it can see me?
However, today I read that there are even bigger problems in an aging world. In Japan people that turn 100 receive a special silver cup. Only there are so many people turning a 100 now that they had to reduce the size of the cup in order to save money! In 1963, the first year they started this program, only a 153 people turned 100. This year a mind boggling 19,769 turned 100!!!
I think this shows in a symbolical way the challenges we will face the future decades. You can read more about it here.