Impact Steward Daniël Brouwer: “different way of working (together) in healthcare”


Every month, we introduce you to an Impact Steward. This time it is Daniël Brouwer, a strategic thinker who has been building bridges between parties in the healthcare system for more than 15 years. He has initiated many fruitful cooperations between hospitals and life sciences companies. What do these kinds of projects entail? And why does his diplomatic skills come in so handy?

Daniël, what is your background?

I grew up in a very international setting and have lived in the US, Surinam, and Germany. It has made me flexible and able to adapt to new environments. After studying Business and Business Informatics in the city of Groningen, I started my career at a large consultancy. As a consultant, you are continuously confronted with new environments and complex issues. After a while, I reflected on the purpose of this job. What does it contribute to? I have been a buddy for people who are coping with addictions and HIV, which was very fulfilling. I wondered if I could use my consulting skills and experiences to improve our healthcare.

How did you make that transfer?

My first assignment was to optimise the processes for kidney dialysis for a regional hospital,Spaarne Gasthuis. It saved lots of time, and – first and foremost – it led to positive reactions from patients. That’s when I knew I had made the right decision. Soon, I was offered the opportunity to join an academic hospital, VUmc (currently, Amsterdam UMC, ed.) as an advisor to the Board of Directors. I managed a large cost reduction program, which allowed me to learn about the business aspects of an academic hospital: the healthcare processes, the healthcare portfolio, and the research. That’s where I was involved in my first value-based healthcare project. After a while, I met Patrick Filius (the founder of Impact Stewards, ed.) and, together, we have worked on many projects focused on helping life sciences companies partner with hospitals.

What do these projects entail?

Many life sciences companies do not just want to sell their products and leave. They want to contribute to improving healthcare in new ways, for instance, by identifying and implementing improvements in healthcare processes in strategic partnerships with hospitals. Considering our ageing population, we must organise our healthcare more effectively and efficiently. We need to focus on the value and outcomes for patients. Many life sciences companies want to contribute to these changes and cooperate more intensively in their value chain. This is easier said than done since our healthcare system is very siloed. There is a lack of trust throughout the system.

Daniël Brouwer

I want to use my expertise to help find a new way of organising and working together in healthcare.

Daniël Brouwer

How do you turn these projects into a success?

With lots of diplomatic skills. It is not uncommon for parties to have their own agenda in a partnership. Be honest about it. I’m good at sensing these situations. I always try to create a setting where everyone feels safe and can be open about these topics. In my experience, this is necessary to create fruitful cooperation and tangible results.

Is there a project you can highlight?

A good example is a project for a biotech company that wanted to improve patient care via strategic partnerships with hospitals. Establishing such a partnership took a year, on average. Moreover, in most cases, despite the efforts of everyone involved, it did not lead to a partnership at all. Why? Distrust. Oftentimes, such a partnership starts bottom-up because the biotech company and a client see a concrete solution to a problem. The healthcare professional will start with much gusto but meets resistance from others who are hesitant to work with life sciences companies. A cooperation? Officially? This often goes against the usual dealings. And that’s how many initiatives will die after months of trying. If you start by involving all formal and informal stakeholders both bottom-up (from contents) and top-down (from a strategic perspective), then such cooperation has more chance to succeed. We reduced this process from a year to 6 weeks for that biotech company.

What makes working in healthcare so appealing?

I want to use my expertise to contribute to helping find new ways of organising and working together in healthcare. That’s very interesting from a business organisation perspective. Will focusing on value for patients lead to better results? Does the way our healthcare system budgets work hinder new ways of organising things? Or is this a minor issue? These are the questions that come to my mind. That’s why I just started a series of podcasts with leaders in our healthcare system, called ‘Impact op Zorg’ (Impact on Healthcare, ed.). Stay tuned!

Sounds good! And for the record: why did you decide to join Impact Stewards?

In Impact Stewards I have found a group of like-minded and experienced professionals. We all think out of the box and are motivated to work on a sustainable, accessible, and affordable healthcare system. Together, we can make a positive impact.

And how about the person behind the professional?

I love to challenge myself both professionally and personally. I’m an avid sporter and, currently, I’m training for my third Iron Man competition. Throughout the years I have had a coach and I coach others too, for instance, people stuck in their patterns. Sometimes, I go to Ibiza to coach a group for a month. But my girlfriend and nine-year-old daughter are the most important in my life. The best moments are the moments spent with them.

“With his hospital experience, knowledge of value-based healthcare (VBHC), and diplomatic skills, Daniël Brouwer is a valuable partner for healthcare managers and professionals. He’s very apt in connecting people and moving past issues. It’s always a pleasure to work with him.”

Patrick Filius, Chief Impact Officer

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Patrick Filius

Chief Impact Officer

Chief Impact Officer