Sustainability programs

Erasmus MC invests in sustainable healthcare

Erasmus MC staff are teaming up with researchers from EUR and TU Delft to work on sustainable care. Within three research programmes, they are committed to sustainable operating rooms, endoscopy and innovation for nurses.

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The new sustainable programmes are SMART OR2023, Technological Innovations for Nurses, and Transition towards Zero Emission Endoscopy. They will receive €200,000 annually for four years from Erasmus MC to work on sustainable healthcare solutions. The programs were selected by Convergence Health & Technology, the collaboration between TU Delft innovators, Erasmus MC clinicians and EUR sociologists and economists.

‘We face major challenges in healthcare, such as an increasing demand for care with a tight labour market and limited resources. In addition, as a healthcare system, we harm our living environment with all the waste we produce. Only together can we solve these challenges sustainably,’ says Stefan Sleijfer, chairman of the Erasmus MC Executive Board.

The operating room of the future

In the operating room of the future, AI and technological innovations will be used to plan, optimally deploy available resources and support staff. It is with this dream that Erasmus MC clinical technologist Bart Cornelissen, TU Delft associate professor Theresia van Essen and Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management associate professor Martina Buljac set to work on the ‘SMART OR2023’ project.

Cornelissen: ‘There is scarcity in the OR; the capacity cannot cope with the increasing demand for care. We want to investigate how we can make the OR more efficient with technological innovations while improving the well-being of our OR colleagues.’

OR in Erasmus MC, photo by Phil Nijhuis

Innovations for nurses

‘The workload for nurses is high,’ says Erasmus MC professor of nursing science Monique van Dijk. ‘Technological innovations could ease the workload, but their implementation is often complex. The risk is that they end up not being used in day-to-day practice. Or, as TU Delft professor of human-robot interaction David Abbink also puts it: ‘Robots often end up gathering dust in a corner.’

Together with EUR professor of sociology of healthcare Iris Wallenburg, Abbink and van Dijk are the project leaders of ‘Technological innovations for nurses, improving efficiency and workplace attractiveness’. From the start, five postdocs will work with a team of nurses, as done in a previous pilot, ensuring successful implementation. Van Dijk: ‘This project is for and with nurses.’

Sustainable endoscopy

The endoscopy department is the third largest department in a hospital in terms of environmental impact. That has to change, according to Erasmus MC hospital pharmacist and program coordinator Research Sustainable Care Nicole Hunfeld, TU Delft professor Design for Inclusive Sustainable System Interventions Jan Carel Diehl, EUR professor of Purchasing & Supply Management in Healthcare Erik van Raaij and Erasmus MC Gastrointestinal-Lever doctors Peter Siersema and Pieter-Jan de Jonge of the ‘Transition towards Zero Emission Endoscopy’ (ZEE) consortium.

By uniting expertise from the three institutes, they want to analyze the flow of materials from the endoscopy department and develop interventions with less environmental impact. Hunfeld: ‘We have to reduce the ecological footprint of healthcare. And we would like to start with the transition to sustainable endoscopy.’

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