Assertive patients

An aging population and people’s increasing assertiveness challenges healthcare workers, researchers and industry.
“What is it you want?”, asks Medical Delta Café’s discussion leader, leaning towards Dr Frans Vos, of the Quantitative Imaging department (Applied Sciences), to see what’s written on his jacket sticker.

Not ‘people’ or ‘collaboration’ is written there, but rather ‘money’. The audience laughs.
The questions debated last Tuesday during a meeting organised by Medical Delta, a joint venture involving the universities of Leiden, Rotterdam and Delft, was whether computer-aided diagnosis could improve future healthcare and how researchers and industry should work together to innovate.
Vos, who also works at Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center (AMC), spoke of his efforts to improve virtual colonoscopy, a medical imaging technique that searches for intestinal polyps using 3D-imagery. His work is sponsored by Philips.

Vos said that 200,000 EU citizens died of colon cancer in 2002, yet many lives could be saved if people were periodically screened. “But”, he added, “forty percent of the people considered for screening refuse.”
Such assertiveness isn’t surprising, Vos states, because prior to undergoing optical colonoscopy (still the standard procedure) patients must first cleanse their bowels by drinking “five litres of a disgusting liquid”.
In future, virtual colonoscopy could spare patients this trouble. Currently, some radiologists search for polyps using images and algorithms as a second scanner, but they aren’t allowed to only use virtual colonoscopy, as the technique hasn’t yet fully matured.
The next speaker, Joost Peeters, a Philips Healthcare clinical software researcher, said technologies like computer-aided diagnosis will only develop if the Food & Drug Administration makes their regulatory rules for new medical technologies much clearer.

Finally, Ard den Heeten, an AMC radiologist and founder of a spin-off company specialising in screening technology, was clearly no fan of multinationals like Philips. “If you want innovate”, he said, “you must start your own spin-off company. Otherwise you’ll fall into the hands of big companies that suddenly start reorganising their R&D departments.”

Duwo has started construction on a new student housing complex on Balthasar van der Polweg. The flats, which are set to open in 2011 and will provide housing for 405 students, are part of a larger plan to build 1,400 student flats on the TU Delft campus in the coming years. A number of building projects aimed at creating more student housing are currently underway, including the De Vries van Heijstplantsoen (294 student flats), Mijnbouwplein (95 flats) and Rotterdamseweg (267 flats) building projects.

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