New Rehabilitation and Technology professor Jorit Meesters wants to innovate rehabilitation care with e-health and care technology

Innovate rehabilitation care to enable patients to receive the best possible care, with the right use of e-health and care technology. That is the ambition of Jorit Meesters, principal researcher at Basalt, expertise centre for rehabilitation medicine and researcher at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and, as of 1 November, also a professor of Rehabilitation and Technology at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS). This research group is a joint initiative of Basalt and The Hague University of Applied Sciences for research, knowledge and innovation. Many years of cooperation between these partners in care and education have made it possible to address important challenges, such as staff shortages and the increasing complexity of the demand for care, on the basis of knowledge and experience. Rehabilitation care is increasingly supported by ICT and e-health applications.

‘A research group based both in a healthcare institution (Basalt) and a knowledge institution (THUAS) is a very valuable instrument for realising our joint ambitions through practice-based research. Research groups are very good at retrieving questions from professional practice and researching these questions in cooperation with professional practice, education and the business community. From there, we develop solutions which are then actually implemented and evaluated in practice. It’s my goal to continue developing the infrastructure of the Rehabilitation research group, the predecessor of this research group, in the coming years and to carry out innovative projects which can be implemented in the rehabilitation centre as well as more widely’, according to Meesters. 

Jorit Meesters 

Meesters has also previously worked as a researcher in the Rehabilitation research group, from which Professor Arend de Kloet recently retired. ‘In the Rehabilitation and Technology research group we are continuing the good work of Professor Arend de Kloet with an even greater emphasis on the role of technology in rehabilitation care. Arend was always an innovative professor and enthusiastically involved users, developers as well as students in those innovations. I absolutely want to continue this constant drive for innovation with all parties involved in my research group, together with my knowledge network.’ In addition to the Rehabilitation and Technology research group, the Rehabilitation research group may result in a second research group. 

Nearly all projects conducted by the research group involve students and lecturers, often using the four LivingLabs in Basalt. This connection with education is very important, not only for THUAS, but also for the brand-new professor. ‘Previously, we were very keen to have students be aware of the possibilities of e-health in rehabilitation, for example. Now we are no longer satisfied with this; we want future professionals to really use e-health in their daily activities. For this purpose, we have developed the e-health toolkit for education together with lecturers and students. Our aim is for our students to become the innovators of tomorrow, who will come up with ideas and solutions that help to advance healthcare. That is why we not only work together with care-related degree programmes, but also, for example, with the technology faculty of THUAS, a collaboration that I want to expand. It’s incredibly important to ensure that future healthcare professionals and future developers know each other very well and can work together.’ 

Most citizens of The Hague don't have direct contact with the work of the professor, and that’s a good thing. ‘Not everyone has direct experience with the care in a rehabilitation centre. For those who do, we work on sustainable and innovative rehabilitation care which has added value for our rehabilitation patients. But we also work on innovations which are used outside the rehabilitation centre. For example, physiotherapy practices also work with our innovations.’ 

The Rehabilitation and Technology research group, together with seven other research groups, forms the Health Innovation Centre of Expertise of The Hague University of Applied Sciences, where more complex health issues are studied and resolved from various angles. ‘That is how the expertise of my research group, together with that of the others, contributes to the health of the citizens of The Hague’, says Meesters. 

With 11 locations in and around the regional hospitals in The Hague, Leiden, Alphen aan den Rijn, Zoetermeer, Leiderdorp, Gouda and Delft, Basalt is the largest expertise centre for rehabilitation medicine in the Netherlands and in South Holland, and is always close to its patients. 

In addition to 62 rehabilitation physicians, cardiologists and pulmonologists, Basalt has 1,300 staff members including various therapists and nurses. Together they form the specialised teams for, among other things; paediatric, cardiac, lung, pain, ortho, neuro and oncological rehabilitation. As the expertise centre for excellent rehabilitation medicine, Basalt treats approximately 10,000 children, adolescents and adults a year. 

Excellent care is guaranteed by permanent innovation and collaboration with a broad rehabilitation care network. LUMC, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, its own SmartLab, and the internal Learning House guarantee scientific support, current research, highly qualified programmes and innovative tools for the patient at Basalt. In addition to patient care, Basalt offers recognised degree programmes for rehabilitation physicians, GZ psychologists, therapists and nurses.