The edition where it all comes together

Interview with Lucien Engelen, by Wouter Wolters

Mirella Boot Fotografie TEDx Nijmegen 20134142

Looking back on TEDxMaastricht 2012 Lucien Engelen is the first to mention that it was different. TEDxMaastricht 2011 was aimed at the perspective of the patient. After the event several people asked Lucien: what about the part of the professional? Therefore the 2012 edition was aimed at the professional. Another difference was the fact that expectations in 2012 were sky-high. Finally the last minute cancellations of three non-Radboud speakers made the 2012 a more Radboud tinted edition than foreseen.

That being said Lucien looks back on a successful TEDxMaastricht edition, which gave birth to a lot of new collaborations and connections between attendees and speakers. But also for Radboud Medical Centre as Lucien states: “It’s nice to share good ideas though let’s also do something with those ideas! All the collaborations that came out of those contacts are priceless!”

TEDxMaastricht personally brought him an extra drive to carry on with what he has started given all the positive feedback from attendees, Radboud colleagues and outside of it. The feedback that helps to convince colleagues that Radboud needs to take the next step that entails killing Lean projects and jointly reconfiguring care as a chain process instead of as a production model. A fluid process that begins at a client’s home instead of in a hospital’s reception desk and where patients are equal participants based on information, choices, involvement and comfort instead of being treated as packages that get transferred from one department to another. And finally a process that takes into account change is the only permanence in healthcare for the next decade. It’s therefore important to show people the way, make clear what to expect and stimulate initiatives instead of regulating every step by guidelines. But above all Radboud MC is moving to chain processes because it wants to ensure that the only constant factor within healthcare remains in sight: the patient.

The story behind TEDxNijmegen 2013

“We are all in a sort of rat race, getting more stimuli than ever” Lucien says. Technology is getting cheaper, becoming more attainable every day and enabling us to enhance life ultimately. The important questions are: do we want this and when are we satisfied? Lucien therefore expects ethics to become one of the most important themes for the future. These insights reflects the three main principles behind TEDxNijmegen 2013:

1 – Daring to admit that not everything can be enhanced

2 – The value of creativity

3 – Technology is no longer the question, people are.

The challenge is to inspire people so they become participants. Therefore the line-up consists of speakers across age who inspire one another by creativity: letting you realize, in the light of Sir Ken Robinson’s message, it’s one of the most important skills for the future.

Being curious for how a line-up arises, Lucien answers “usually it appears the best ideas for a talk arise from a conversation at a table that isn’t primarily about TEDxNijmegen”. Like when Lucien was talking to Marcel Olde Rikkert (Professor Geriatrics at Radboud University) about the biggest challenges and themes in his field. Olde Rikkert told about how he took a sabbatical and attended a lecture by the 95 year old Edward Gerjuoy (emeritus Physics Professor). For the first time in many years Olde-Rikkert remained seated after the lecture, blown away by his insights. Where we generally think everything stops when you get old, Gerjuoy proved the complete opposite.
Another example is when Lucien was tipped through Twitter by European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes on Eastern Monday about Hello Europe: an initiative by three young Belgians who want to place screens as big as tennis courts to connect Europeans. This way people can get to know each other but also to jointly give concerts while the string players are in Barcelona and players of the drum sections are in Amsterdam.

TEDxNijmegen 2014 and beyond

Asking Lucien when he is done with TEDxNijmegen he points out that a next TEDxNijmegen depends on whether the format still lives up to its needs. Though he promises he keeps organizing conferences as long as they prove beneficial to the needed change. Personally he isn’t done before he made a difference in patient care and this is embedded in science and education.

In last year’s edition of the TEDxMaastricht live-magazine Lucien told me he expects to die of cancer, like his parents, before he turns 65. This year he admits he falls short when it comes to enhancing his own life, in terms of eating healthy and doing workouts. Then again, in the light of Gerjuoy talk, doing in life what he finds most important gives him energy. Regarding this: if are you inspired by Lucien and his team then do something in return by twittering (since he has quit email) your stories and examples of a healthy lifestyle to ensure yourself of many more events to come.