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The need for strong leadership within healthcare is stronger than ever

'The current trend in healthcare is leading to a difficult situation to sustain. The demand for healthcare continues to rise and the shortage of healthcare personnel is worsening. We therefore need to focus much more on prevention. A significant part of healthcare costs is related to things like smoking, drinking, and obesity. Currently, we are creating a much bigger health crisis with these unhealthy lifestyles. But the measures we are taking against it are a drop in the ocean, there is no real follow-through. And that while in the COVID-19 pandemic we were able to take draconian measures.' - Arjan Sollewijn Gelpke

Arjan Sollewijn

Arjan Sollewijn Gelpke has joined Boer & Croon as an Associate Partner. He will use his experience and expertise to contribute to connecting leadership within healthcare.

After completing his PhD in Organic Chemistry, Arjan was initially destined to continue in science. But instead of devoting himself to one small subtopic and researching it for years, he looked for a field of work that better matched his broad interests. Initially, he found this in the pharmaceutical industry, at Organon. This Dutch company was then taken over by Merck, Sharp & Dohme, after which the focus became more on blockbuster drugs for mainly Western diseases of affluence, instead of research into drugs that really benefit the world but are less commercially attractive. That was a major reason for Arjan to shift his focus.

After 13 years, he switched to a healthcare consultancy in 2011. After completing his PhD in Organic Chemistry, Arjan was initially destined to continue in science. But instead of devoting himself to one small subtopic and researching it for years, he looked for a field of work that better matched his broad interests. Initially, he found this in the pharmaceutical industry, at Organon. This Dutch company was then taken over by Merck, Sharp & Dohme, after which the focus became more on blockbuster drugs for mainly Western diseases of affluence, instead of research into drugs that really benefit the world but are less commercially attractive. That was a major reason for Arjan to shift his focus. After 13 years, he switched to a healthcare consultancy in 2011.


From researcher to interim manager

Arjan: 'At IG&H Consulting & Interim, I learned a lot about the healthcare sector and got to know the industry well. In 2015, I joined the management team of the Flevo Hospital in Almere. The inspectorate was not satisfied with that hospital; it was almost under enhanced supervision. It was my job to turn that around.
When that succeeded, I knew I wanted to continue as an interim manager. Consultancy for me was too volatile and too far removed from the organisation. As an interim manager, you are much closer and work with the people of the organisation to solve a particular problem or implement a transformation.'


Creëren betrokkenheid en acceptatie

This was followed by two interim assignments at Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, as head of operations of the Pathology Department and the General Clinical Laboratory and as head of the Radiotherapy Medical Department, respectively.

'In these assignments, it was important to quickly bring clarity to some difficult files, and ensure that calm returned and the focus returned to cooperation and performance. I am currently completing an assignment at Gelre Ziekenhuizen, where I have been appointed business manager OK/CSA a.i.

Most of the problems I encounter in healthcare are caused by a lack of leadership. Good leadership is a combination of professionalism and humanity. When I enter somewhere, I first look at what is needed to make the organisation function better. Then I choose three issues to be addressed first. Not just by me, but in collaboration with the people working there. That way, you create involvement and acceptance of the decisions that need to be taken. Because such a change is not always pleasant for everyone. By clearly communicating about it and explaining why certain interventions are necessary and indicating that you understand that this is a difficult message, you eventually get the organisation on board.
After that, you have to stick to the line you have set and not give in when people ask you to take it down a notch. This way, as an interim manager, you can not only solve the problems within such an organisation, but also establish a structure that will remain in place when you leave after a while.'


The importance of leadership

'Especially in these times, when healthcare is under strong pressure and there are a number of challenges on the agenda, including digitalisation, the implementation of the Integral Care Agreement and regional cooperation, the need for strong leadership is great. Ideally, you have an Executive Board that clearly sets out the lines and, below that, the management team that works in that line to realise and concretise it. And ensures support and connection and is able to initiate the necessary changes.'