In the spotlight

Innovator in the spotlight – Renske Karens (Princess Maxima Center)

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Innovations in healthcare often remind us of new medical devices, artificial intelligence or digital applications. However, there are great examples of how an organization itself can be a true innovation. In 2018, the Princess Maxima Center (PMC), a unique initiative by parents and healthcare professionals, opened its doors. As one of the largest pediatric oncology centers in Europe, it shows how centralization of care and research can make the difference and improve the quality of care. Each year, about 600 children are diagnosed with cancer in the Netherlands. Driven by innovation and research, the center’s mission is to cure every child. Renske Karens, healthcare team leader at the Máxima Center and member of the MedScaler Innovators Club, is dedicated to bridge the gap between innovation and the needs of children, parents and healthcare professionals.

Welcoming innovation

“At the center, there are many opportunities to welcome innovations.” Renske explains. Although the Princess Maxima Center is always interested in new solutions, it is not always easy to coordinate innovation. In practice, it is a challenge to innovate, as healthcare is fragmented across different departments and professionals have to deal with daily routine tasks. “That is why good ideas often fail”, Renske says. She saw the opportunity to improve this by connecting the right people to each other and supporting entrepreneurship. Additionally, she initiates small experiments and stimulates innovation by keeping track of the latest developments, listening to patients, parents and healthcare professionals.

The most impressive innovation that Renske has seen is without a doubt, the medication robot (RIVA). “Nurses used to spend half their time preparing medication in some wards. With the robot, all medication is ready and tailor-made, nurses only have to scan and give it to the patient. It does not only reduce the workload but also prevents errors and infections. To be one of the first users in Europe and experience the significant effect of this innovation on the quality of care is what makes this impressive.” Renske says.

MedScaler and Princess Maxima Centrum

Renske says she is enthusiastic about being part of the MedScaler Innovators Club. “It’s good to be part of such a network, it helps me building a network and it is always relevant to stay up to date with the latest developments in the field.” The mentality of MedScaler is what Renske likes most, in what she calls “a young club of people with an open attitude and an  easy approach”. She recognizes that discussing innovations and being part of a network allows people to learn from each other.

Innovation wishlist for Princess Maxima Centrum

The healthcare workers currently wear a lot of gadgets and pagers. In the future, Renske would like to see an all-in-one system. She envisions a smart hospital, where healthcare workers wear just one device and use one system that is demand-driven, personalized to the child and supported by parent services. For the coming five years, the Princess Maxima Center will be developing a clear plan on how they would like to improve things in the future. Last but not least, Renske believes that exchange projects of nurses, doctors and innovators worldwide, helps to learn from each other and stimulates ideas and projects.

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Cover Image: ICT Magazine