Smart Health interviews Tim Jürgens, the General Manager of Roche Diabetes Care Netherlands and Head of Country Cluster Netherlands, who talks about the new advances of Roche Diabetes Care for the daily treatment of this chronic disease.
What new opportunities does digital health offer for the treatment of chronic conditions?
Chronic diseases will be an increasing burden on health systems, as well as on caregivers and the people affected by the condition. Taking the example of diabetes care, the number of people with diabetes worldwide will increase by 50% in the coming 20 years, and that will be a huge challenge for society and for the health system from an economic point of view. Also, for people themselves it will make a great difference to be seamlessly supported in a process which is more focused on preventing late stage complications. Hopefully, for Type II diabetes patients this prevention will be digitally enabled. Therefore, digital health is key to achieving successful healthcare support.
How can the new digital solutions help patients to make better decisions in the management of their condition?
I’ll give you a very simple example from the field of diabetes: if you need bolus insulin, you firstly need an accurate data point generated by a measurement; you then need to consider your current body health as accurately as possible, physical activity, calorie intake plan, etc. Finally you can calculate the bolus in the best way to manage your blood glucose. All of this will be digitally enabled which will help people to do these calculations more accurately.
“We need to adopt the digital world as soon as possible so we can drive change in the system"
Are people/patients ready to adopt a new and more active role in the management of their disease?
We are experiencing a phase of scaling the adoption of digital tools for self-monitoring, moving from early adoption to more autonomous self-management using new technologies. Every day, more and more people are introducing these tools for the self-management of chronic diseases as a natural part of their activities, overcoming the nuisance of early technologies that required much more attention and patience in their use. The big challenge for digital health is now to speed up the adoption process and engage users.
How can this new model based on personalized care reduce costs in healthcare systems?
At this point, healthcare is very much linked to physical care provided by physicians, partially in a hospital setting, even if it is a chronic condition. If, using the right digital supports, we are able to reduce expenditure, in first place, by remote monitoring and telemedicine, we will be able to improve the efficiency of the system as a whole by optimizing the available resources. The second point, from my perspective, is that by better managing chronic conditions, we will be able to identify signs to intervene proactively in order to reduce the likelihood of an incident or a late stage complication. In diabetes this would be possible by analysing data to identify the warning signs that people are in danger, for example, of having heart failure. Also, by reducing long-term complications, the system would benefit.
What are the main challenges for the implementation of these new digital health solutions?
The main one is the level of experience in the current systems of all the different stakeholders implementing digital health programmes, and in second place, people’s tendency to stick to what they know and are familiar with Here, at the eHealth Week in Amsterdam, we have had several discussions addressing that question. One of the considerations is that we need to be as quick as possible and provide as much support as possible in the introduction of new technologies to let the new generations, physicians, caretakers and professionals in the industry adopt the digital world as soon as possible, so they can drive change in the system.
The number of people with diabetes worldwide will increase by 50% in the coming 20 years
In your opinion, what are the highlights of an event like eHealth Week in Amsterdam?
It is impressive to see how quickly the number of participants has risen and how the quality and real-life applicability of the solutions presented have moved forward. It is very evident that the number of attendees from the digital health field has grown significantly, and we can expect a strong uptake from interested parties in that field, as well as new solutions reaching daily practice in a preliminary pilot phase. For diabetic patients this is a primary area of interest. We will see very soon, also in daily practice, people suffering from this condition who are able to improve their clinical outcomes thanks to digital solutions.
Jose L. Cánovas
Tim Jürgens, new Head of Roche Diabetes Care New Business Models and Emminens
There is a great potential for digitally enabled diabetes management solutions due to the increasing availability of individual data on diabetes, lifestyle and treatment. The ongoing integration and connectivity between key stakeholders involved in the overall management of diabetes requires further development and new approaches.
Roche Diabetes care wants to lead this transformation. We have been always innovating and have over 10 years of experience with Emminens Healthcare Services, in telemedicine and clinical decision support. More recently we are helping healthcare centers to manage stocks and diabetic populations and, still we need to go further.
In words of Tim Jürgens, new Head of Roche Diabetes Care New Business Models and Emminens, “we aim to make a difference and really transform and create business models based on outcomes to optimize resources and ensure the sustainability of the healthcare systems and, at the same time, provide people with diabetes and their caregivers with the best tools to make accurate decisions easily and faster”.
Mr. Jürgens was until now General Manager Roche Diabetes Care Netherlands B.V. and Head of Roche Diabetes Care Management Cluster Netherlands. In his new role, based in Sant Cugat (Barcelona, Spain) he will be the leader of the development of digitally enabled diabetes management solutions that may have the potential to improve the treatment efficacy and outcome by slowing down disease progression through better prevention, diagnosis and treatment while helping to reduce costs and optimizing resources.
“Our goal is to build the world’s leading ecosystem for diabetes management by integrating existing and new innovative digital solutions that enable the integration of the various stakeholders including physicians, clinics, nurses, payers, patients family members, etc. to improve the treatment and outcomes of diabetes” says Jürgens.
Tim Jürgens joined Roche in 2003. In 2010, he was appointed Head of Roche Diabetes Care Denmark. In 2012, he took over the position as Head of Diabetes Care Netherlands and became General Manager Roche Diabetes Care Netherlands and in 2015, he assumed the additional responsibility of the Diabetes Care Management Cluster Netherlands.