Our members BVZD-ABDH-BVKD – Association Belge des Directeurs d’Hôpitaux

The Belgian Association of Hospital Managers: An Active Association

Interview with Prof. Pascal VERDONCK,
Board Member of the Belgian Association of Hospital Managers

Could you remind us of the missions and key figures of the Belgian Association of Hospital Managers?
Let me first emphasize that the Belgian Association of Hospital Managers is an association, not a federation: it gathers about 200 individual hospital managers, mainly they are CEO or CMO. All of them are leading general or university hospitals from the three linguistic communities, regardless any political or religious creed. On top the association is strongly committed to innovation and leadership for hospital & healthcare management. The association has four core values: “open, excellence, leadership, and friendship. The latter is essential to overcome competitive considerations and solving together complex problems. The association also collaborates with (inter)national industrial partners who are selected based on their innovation file for each of the more than 20 sectors that we have identified in healthcare management: from building smart constructions, over IT infrastructure, security & privacy, towards medical devices… As you may know, the introduction of a real innovation in healthcare practice requires a reasonable time to align the different stakeholders in this complex ecosystem.

How do you defend the interests of your members and what services do you offer them?
We organize study visits, seminars, round tables or nowadays webinars in Belgium or abroad. In particular, we participate in the American Congress of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) that takes place each year in March in Chicago. We are also investing in innovation by setting up joint study trips to Singapore, Dubai, Boston, Portugal, Denmark… These study trips strengthen not only the friendship of our members but they stimulate in particular their vision to increase the quality of care in their hospital taken into account the best international practices.

What partnerships have you developed with certain global suppliers of health technologies and pharmaceutical products?
For example, Johnson & Johnson stimulated us to develop leadership with the facilitation of the participation of our members in the American Congress of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Our association is now the first international chapter of ACHE. Partners facilitate also with their international network interesting visits.

In addition, webinars are organized with the support of partners like recently about the needed framework to reuse medical data. Other webinars were set up on the theme of personalized care technologies as part of the care trajectory (monitoring a patient from the beginning to the end of his journey) with the support of Philips or in close collaboration with the federal government & administration about the national action plan “One health. In fall 2021 we organized a workshop in partnership with Telenet and the federal policy makers focused on cybersecurity to answer the board’s question on what financial investment will be necessary in the near future to keep a secure digital hospital environment.

In all cases, the topics discussed aim to increase the insight of hospital directors.

What do you think are the main challenges to come in terms of management and quality of hospital care?
In my 20 years of hospital experience, I have seen significant improvements: the accreditation system has enabled hospitals to organize the care process more safely thanks to the implementation of clearly defined procedures, getting rid of silo-thinking in hospitals, helping us managing pandemic crises.

Yet the near future of our healthcare relies upon two pillars: innovation & data. The first one is connecting with the patient by integrating care around the patient: care continuity must be ensured & integrated around the patient between hospitals, general practitioners, eldery houses… and home (home care & home hospitalization).

Unfortunately the Belgian financing system (mainly still “fee per service” with a start of bundle payment) represents a speed brake for this innovation. Our system needs an urgent financial reform. The second pillar is based on multidisciplinary care & data platform around the patient and the application of the concepts of value based healthcare: this concept was designed by an American engineer, Michael Porter, and rewards health care providers with an incentive payment for their quality of care. The quality, measured by the patient’s experience and the clinical outcome, is compared to the cost for the society in order to determine the added value for the patient. Computer & sensor technology together with data sciences will help us achieve this goal. It is therefore important to invest in high tech infrastructure, high performance computer network, 5G connectivity, … actually leading towards more personalized patient care and prevention.


Published in Belgian Research in Europe 1/2022