Cathy van Beek: Patients in the driver seat: that’s participatory healthcare!

Cathy van Beek at stage: she is Member of the executive board and Chief Medical Officer of Radboud University Medical Centre since October 2011. She is involved with patient care for a very long time, even before this concept actually existed. In her opinion she is committed to caring because she comes from a large family with ten brothers and five sisters.

In her vision patients are partner in the patients’ team. They are together with their treatment team at the table of the Board of Directors. That’s participating healthcare. In her talk she explains where Radboud University Medical Centre stands on this point, and what the goal is for the next years considering participating healthcare.

When she started her work at the hospital she noticed a lot of dedication and compassion from doctors and nurses, and vibrant patient communities. But she also found more traditional relations between professional on one side, and patients on the other side. With doctors keeping monologues and patients listening to them and nodding. That’s not participatory healthcare.

To experience more about it she started to follow a mother of a six-year-old spina bifida patient who gets operated for the thirty-first (!) time. When this mother stayed with her child at the hospital, nurses were taking over all the medical activities she normally does herself. She wanted to be part of the treatment team but she couldn’t get in touch with the doctors. That is not participatory healthcare either. The hospital has to get patients (back) in the driver seat because patients are the most valuable members of the team. They are the only experts in having their disease. So you have to involve them in their own care.

So what to do and how to change? The hospital has to create a climate where patient can truly participate. Besides the hospital will set up a medical agreement with patients, will invite patients in meetings and will give guaranteed contact options with doctors.

Cathy’s mission is to give control back to patients, and come to total partnership between healthcare professionals and patients. Not only intend to it, but also act up to it. That’s participatory healthcare!

Cathy van Beek


A blog by Annemieke Bol