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Interview with Govert Ho of &niped

Ready for the turning point

To provide all Dutch people with access to prevention via e-health. &NIPED [The Netherlands Institute for Prevention and e-Health Development] strives to achieve this with the Personal Health Check. More and more partners are coming forward and the range of achievement is fast growing. We are waiting for the final breakthrough.

“I like challenges”, says Govert Ho, managing director of Personal Health Check, halfway through the conversation. A week earlier he had participated in the Iron Man 70.3 in Greece. This is a triathlon in which the participants swim, cycle and run 70.3 English miles. “A group of fathers said to each other on King's Day last year: that’s what we’re going to do! Neither of us could really swim. Of course, we had diplomas, but believe you me, you can’t swim in the open sea. That´s why we took swimming lessons twice a week, at seven in the morning. Not always nice, but we persevered and motivated each other. I look back on a fantastic year, with the motto: it's the journey rather than the destination. Whether I completed the Iron Man or not, the road to it had already been worth it.”

He doesn't just say. Ho sees a parallel between his organization and the participation in and preparation for the triathlon. “With &NIPED we have also come a long way. We must overcome setbacks and move forward. We are sure that we are on the right track. But we will only reach our destination if everyone remains motivated, works hard and continues to believe that we hold one of the keys to change healthcare in The Netherlands.”

Independent

That key is the Personal Health Check. This instrument gives people insight into their health and lifestyle. The basis is an online questionnaire, in which participants are also sent a checkbox to do tests at home. On average, participants pay fifty euros for the check, which focuses on ten risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol, food, obesity, cholesterol and blood sugar. “According to the WHO, those ten factors cause seventy percent of the disease burden in the western world. All of those risk factors can be addressed by adjusting one’s lifestyle.”

&NIPED wants the health check to provide all Dutch citizens with access to prevention via e-health, so that they can take responsibility for their own health.  “We’re not alone in that, there are other health checks. What makes us unique is that we are independently as well as medically and scientifically validated. In addition, we work with renowned health funds such as the Heart Foundation, the Long Fund, the Kidney Foundation and the Diabetes Fund; the LHV and NHG GP organizations; and with GGD GHOR.”

New impulse

The health check was launched in its current form in 2015. Two years later, the check received a new impulse. "We renewed our strategy, with more focus on partners such as health insurers, intermediaries and occupational health and safety services. At the same time, we further developed our product and made the internal organization more flexible."

Since then it has been fast growing. “In 2017 we had one health insurance company that reimbursed the health check, nowadays we have eight.” But the road to success is long. “Most customers are companies and we want to reach many more individuals. Our ambition is that by 2021 1.7 million Dutch people will have done the health check at least once. With almost 300,000 participants, we are still far from that. Everyone acknowledges the importance of prevention, but the willingness to pay for it is still not enough.”

Ho is nevertheless optimistic. “The doors have been opened; the discussion partners are there. For example, cooperation with partners makes our coverage grow enormously. But it takes a long time for a turning point to appear; one that leads to more participants and revenue. That is perhaps inherent to healthcare: everything takes its time. We remain adamant that we are on the right track and that it is a matter of time before the turning point comes. And when it does come, we will be ready.”