The continuing rise of lifestyle-related diseases and chronic disorders means that we need to take a fresh look at health and healthcare, and must combine prevention and treatment. TNO aims to deliver social and technological innovations that can help people make the kind of choices that lead to better health and increased social participation.
“We want to help people make the right choices for themselves with regard to their health, availability to work, and productivity. This is no easy matter, given what we face every day. Consider, for example, working healthily up to an older age, having an often busy or intense domestic environment and a full-on lifestyle,” says Peter van Dijken, managing director of the Healthy Living unit.
TNO, together with government authorities, knowledge institutes and companies, is developing technological and social innovations that promote good health and work availability, and which therefore lead to a healthy, vigorous, and productive population – as well as lowering national healthcare costs and increasing economic growth.
Working across four domains – Youth, Work, Biomedical Health and Digital Lifestyle – the Healthy Living unit excels in identifying the significant future developments and interventions relevant to each. Within these domains we are developing knowledge and expertise in the fields of health, health technology and personalised health interventions. For instance, we are contributing to the transformation of youth healthcare by way of digitalisation. We are developing an online platform that provides youth healthcare guidelines and allows parents to find the professionals and advice they need to make the right choices. We are also measuring and monitoring stress and exposure to toxic substances in daily life, to enable the development of collective public health strategies, personalised interventional strategies and empirically based health interventions, in particular for the work environment. In this way we are creating a basis for interventions and supportive technology so that both prevention and participation may be improved.
By innovating within the preclinical and clinical phases of medicine development we aim to greatly reduce the failure rate—and thus the development costs—of essential new medicines. In addition, we are helping citizens and professionals to make the best health choices by collecting data about health and risks at a personal level and converting them into valuable information with which we can proactively provide customised advice. This personal information supports long-term, permanent behavioural changes and a healthier lifestyle. We are convinced that for many disorders a change of lifestyle is the cure of the future.
How can we continue to improve the quality of digital healthcare? Healthcare is going digital at a rapid pace. Any individual can already gather a great deal of data and gain an insight into genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. In order to improve the quality of digital healthcare, TNO uses the P4 concept (prediction, prevention, personalisation and participation). In this way, we are developing usable, safe and reliable applications that meet each person's particular need for personal healthcare. Privacy is a precondition of this work. TNO is developing interpretations and predictive models of personal health data that will enable reliable advice and personal interventions. By means of practical pilots and the P4 concept, we aim to improve the concept of personalised digital health.