Skip to content

A walk into the future of Belgian health care

Published on Friday, October 6th 2023


In Belgium, as in many modern healthcare systems around the world, collecting data on patient health and treatment has become an indispensable cornerstone in the search for high-quality, personalized care. This drive towards data-driven healthcare means a profound shift in the way healthcare professionals approach patient care, ushering in a new era of improved communication, patient engagement and customized treatment.

During a roundtable discussion with a number of key players from the ecosystem, we discussed this shift and its challenges and opportunities in detail. The result was a fascinating conversation, full of surprising visions and tantalizing lessons, of which we would like to share four indispensable insights in this article.

Data is the core 

Collecting data on patients’ health and treatment presents a wealth of opportunities to deliver customized care. Comprehensive data collection and analysis helps caregivers understand each patient’s unique medical history, needs and preferences. This insight enables them to create treatment plans precisely tailored to the individual, optimizing the likelihood of successful outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Effective communication between healthcare organizations and providers is also an essential part of efficient, patient-centered care. The collected data can be securely shared among relevant stakeholders, facilitating collaboration and care coordination. This seamless exchange of information ensures that caregivers are well-informed so they can make informed decisions quickly. It also reduces the risk of unnecessary tests and procedures, ultimately leading to cost savings for both patients and the healthcare system.

One of the main issues raised during the discussion was the need for government intervention in standardizing and structuring healthcare data. The consensus was that data must be FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) to enable seamless exchange among healthcare organizations, on the first to the third levels of healthcare. The outlined eHealth action plan should be the right catalyst to enable use of the data to the fullest and to the best advantage.

What’s in it for everyone needs to be clear

To encourage data sharing, it is essential to answer the following question: What is the motivation for caregivers and patients to participate in this process?

Attendees suggested several facilitating factors:


  • Sharing data should make life easier for caregivers by reducing administrative burdens and enabling them to focus on patient care.
  • Patients should have the means to enter their own data, promoting a sense of ownership of their healthcare.
  • At the policy level, revising the funding structure according to the new care reality can help systems and tools to be better used and adopted.
  • Recognizing that structuring data takes time, the group emphasized the need to prioritize projects based on return on investment and sustainability.


Only when the added value is clear does a new view of healthcare become a win-win situation.

However, the potential of data-driven healthcare can only be fully realized if responsibilities are clearly defined and systems are actively embraced by healthcare professionals. Physicians, for example, play a central role in this ecosystem and their active participation in collecting, consulting and completing data is crucial. User-friendly systems and interfaces should be designed to encourage and facilitate their involvement.

Furthermore, it is essential to recognize that patients themselves can make a valuable contribution to the data collection process. Patients have a unique perspective on their health, and their input can provide essential context and information that complement clinical data. Empowering patients to actively participate in their care by sharing relevant health data and completing assessments makes them partners in their own well-being.

The future of healthcare involves a paradigm shift with an impact on funding structure.

Participants also discussed the future of health care organizations and emphasized a paradigm shift toward prevention rather than treatment, including patient empowerment and improved data sharing to drive better health outcomes. One intriguing suggestion was to reward healthcare organizations based on the quality of the data they share to encourage excellence in patient care. To support this paradigm shift, new funding models are needed that align with a preventive approach to healthcare. Such models should focus on maintaining well-being rather than treating disease.

Another way to increase efficiency is to move towards shorter hospital stays through teleconsultation and remote monitoring. Patients take an active role here, recording their own parameters using portable technology, and forwarding them to their specialist, who can make a correct assessment remotely. Digital technologies are therefore essential in shortening hospital stays and supporting patients at home. This approach not only benefits patients, but also relieves the pressure on home nurses or caregivers by providing additional digital support. We can also think of digital support for care teams with patient participation, where the zeroth , first and second lines of healthcare are more quickly and accurately informed about the “patient’s” health and social situation.
However, all these new forms of care, whether digitally supported or not, also have financial implications that will also need to be reviewed.

The potential of digital technology depends on scalability and the human factor.

When discussing the potential of digital technology, the participants stressed that scalability is a key success factor. Some digital initiatives should be approached regionally or nationally, not organization-by-organization, allowing for more effective implementation and data sharing. Above all, this is the best way to monitor the balance between return and investment or return and sustainability.

While digitizing plays an important role in the future of healthcare, it is just as important to recognize that human interaction remains irreplaceable. Caregivers will have to adapt to new roles, but interpreting symptoms, actively listening and providing guidance and support will remain at the core of their jobs. That is also part of sustainable care.

In conclusion, healthcare is on the brink of significant change, driven by digitizing and a shift toward preventive care. Addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities discussed during this roundtable discussion are essential to shaping a healthcare system that prioritizes patient well-being and ensures the sustainability of healthcare organizations into the future. Stakeholder collaboration and a forward-thinking approach are paramount to navigating the transformation.

Would you like to discuss this with our healthcare sector experts? Let us know! / Sé

Contact us

Subscribe to newsletter

This site is registered on as a development site.