A conversation with Máxima MC

Dries Steinmeijer works at Máxima MC and, according to his business card, is responsible for business development and funding. His main task is to ensure that the Máxima MC receives additional funding for medical scientific research and innovative projects from the hospital. The Máxima MC is a top clinical hospital, which means that it is not just a teaching hospital, but that some of the doctors and nurses, in addition to their regular work, work on research and healthcare innovations. “As a top clinical hospital, we see many patients in different target groups. The Máxima MC is, therefore, an ideal place to validate new ideas and to conduct further research.”

Type Update
Published on 23 August 2023
Part of Embassy of Health
A conversation with Máxima MC
Part of Embassy of Health

The hospital collaborates with knowledge institutions such as Eindhoven University of Technology, Fontys Hogescholen and Summa College, but also with other hospitals and the business community. “We look at where we can make the connection to make innovations in healthcare, ideas that originate with us, or the ideas that companies have come to fruition.”

Máxima MC has been involved with the Embassy of Health since 2018. “We have been partners from the very beginning. On the one hand, because we as Máxima MC are part of the Brainport region, which is of course also a design region. On the other hand, and the most important reason, because we see that design makes a good contribution to finding solutions. To give an example, we have been developing an artificial womb for several years now. We presented that project during Dutch Design Week (DDW) 2018. An artificial womb is a complex task in which you not only have to look at the technology but also at the functionality. Design helps us a lot with that functionality.”

What does design mean to you?

“In the past, the traditional view of design has focused on designing things. Until about ten to fifteen years ago, it mainly concerned furniture and consumer goods, but in the past ten years there has been a shift. It’s more about function. What can design add in certain functions, in certain mechanisms or in certain ways of thinking? To be clear, I am a layman when it comes to design, but I am experiencing two schools of thought in design. The latter movement is interesting to me because it contributes to how you look at developments and habits. In the first instance, this does not have much to do with design, but more with the design and functionality. The great thing about working with designers is that they can think out of the box. For me, that is an absolute added value.”

How does design take Máxima MC’s innovations a step further?

“It is mainly in the way of thinking. I think a good example is a project we took to DDW last year: Expeditie Vitaal Gezond. We work together with housing corporation Trudo. The underlying idea is that healthcare in the Netherlands is overcrowded and that the demand for healthcare is only increasing. In addition, there is a large staff shortage. Hospitals in the Netherlands are not supposed to grow in turnover, but rather to temper it. 2034 is the year in which, due to the increasing aging population, there will be a peak in the demand we make on healthcare in the Netherlands, healthcare in the broad sense.”

“Technological developments contribute to the solution, but we cannot make it with technology alone. We can’t open cans of staff either. Those people simply don’t exist. As a hospital, we want to work on prevention and the vitality of people. One way we try to do that is by partnering with housing corporation Trudo, something that already means thinking out of the box for us. Traditionally, a doctor makes a diagnosis, comes up with a treatment plan, and that is carried out from a patient-doctor relationship. At Expeditie Vitaal Gezond we work at the front, before there is a patient-doctor relationship. Can we make people aware of their lifestyle, such as a lack of exercise? We hope that this will prevent people from having to go to the hospital at a later stage.”

“We involved designers from the start of this project. They think outside the box. The beauty of designers is that they immerse themselves in the material, in social development and then come up with ideas. Sometimes those ideas work, but sometimes they don’t. That’s okay, it’s a matter of research. They did that at Expeditie Vitaal Gezond.”

‘We involved designers from the start of this project. They think outside the box. The beauty of designers is that they immerse themselves in the material, in social development and then come up with ideas.’

What ideas do the designers come up with?

“We started the ‘Lekker in je vel-loket’ in the Eindhoven district of De Bennekel. It is a real working-class neighbourhood where a lot is happening. A neighbourhood where you see that people do not go to the doctor automatically. They don’t dare to go or think it will cost them money. Together with designers, the idea arose to simply approach people with the ‘lekker in je vel-busje’ (feeling good about yourself bus). Highly accessible, no barriers, but with focus on health. A first step, an experiment and a good development. A development that is now enjoying a great deal of interest. Also from the municipality of Eindhoven.”

“For me, the greatest added value is that designers can think in terms of processes, that they can think differently, additionally. You don’t have to explain the medical aspect to a doctor. A designer is not a doctor. Bringing disciplines and skills together, that’s what it’s all about. I also noticed that teams are increasingly looking at which disciplines are needed for projects. Then a team immediately looks at design. That is a big difference from ten years ago.”

What does the collaboration with the Embassy of Health mean for Máxima MC?

 “The Embassy is a podium for us. During the nine days of DDW we are part of the exhibition. That ranged from the artificial womb, to robotics issues about the doctor-patient relationship and thus the Expeditie Vitaal Gezond. This year we are coming up with a very special presentation, but I will not say anything about it yet, except that it concerns the future of hospital care.”

“During DDW we try to broaden the target group. First and foremost, our employees. We have more than 3500 employees, so not everyone will visit the exhibition, but we are trying, especially this year, to encourage more of our employees to view the exhibition.”

“We want to show everyone who is interested in healthcare what developments and ideas there are within hospital care. Such as self-monitoring, which allows people to contribute to their recovery from the comfort of their homes. People do not have to go back to the hospital every time. We want to show that future hospital care will have a completely different function. We believe it is important to include as many people as possible in the development in order to keep healthcare manageable. The Embassy of Health offers a platform for this.”

How do you see the future in the collaboration with the Embassy of Health?

“I’m never one to look very far ahead, but with the Embassy we are on the right track. I would like it if the Embassy of Health is seen in the Netherlands in three years’ time as the platform for collaboration between knowledge institutions, healthcare institutions and the business community, based on design thinking for healthcare issues. We must show ourselves what is possible, because unknown makes unloved.”

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