Societal challenge - Sustainable healthcare

One of the four societal challenges of the Nivel Research Agenda 2022-2024
The quality, accessibility and affordability of Dutch healthcare are under increasing pressure. There is a growing demand for healthcare services due to factors like an ageing population and a virus outbreak. There are labour shortages and the healthcare system is organised and financed in a fragmented manner. Innovation and change are necessary. We investigate how to move towards a more sustainable design and organisation of our healthcare services.

Nivel-U4-foto-rand_350pxThe research we conduct in the framework of the societal challenge on how to achieve a more sustainable healthcare system, is divided into three subjects:
  • A future-proof healthcare system: design and organisation
  • Learning from data in healthcare
  • Transition, reducing the ecological footprint of the healthcare system

All relevant research information and results on these subjects you will find on the right (Publications, Projects, News, etc.).

Nivel-icoon-U4-Toekomstbestendige-zorgSubject: A future-proof healthcare system: design and organisation

Scarcity in healthcare provision is a realistic problem we have tot face. This is clearly noticeable in the daily practice of care provision. Healthcare professionals have to deal with a shortage of co-professionals on the work floor, with administrative and accountability burdens and with a constant intake of new patients. This often takes place at the expense of direct patient contact. This field of tension will only increase in the near future.

  • We conduct internationally-oriented collaborative research on how these types of issues are dealt with in other countries and whether this approach can also be used in the Netherlands.
  • We monitor and evaluate the effects of healthcare policies. For example, we investigate the consequences of decisions on whether or not to include certain forms of medication in patient insurance policies. We investigate the effects of such initiatives within the programme 'Proper Care in the Proper Place', ruled by the Dutch government.
Caroline Schlinkert

In order to better cope with future care crises, we should not only look at permanent scaling-up. Solutions also lie in the sustainable use of one's own networks, strong crisis leadership and the timely provision of perspective. Caroline Schlinkert Researcher Organisation en Quality of Care

Nivel-icoon-U4-Leren-van-dataSubject: Learning from data in healthcare

Our healthcare system has a vast amount of care-related data that it produces itself, such as the Electronic Health Records (EHR). This data can be used for research on the healthcare system itself and for research on the provision of healthcare and how to improve these issues.

  • How can we learn from all these data? How does this contribute to appropriate care?
  • How can we contribute to a learning health system?
  • We offer feedback to healthcare professionals based on the data they have recorded.
Bart Knottnerus

General practitioners can play an important role in greening healthcare. Providing feedback on the climate impact of treatment options can help them do so.Bart Knottnerus General practitioner and senior researcher at Nivel

Nivel-icoon-U4-Ecologische-voetafdrukSubject: Transition, reducing the ecological footprint of the healthcare system

The healthcare sector is responsible for about 7% of all CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. There is a growing awareness that reducing waste and making environmentally conscious choices are necessary.

  • What initiatives are there to reduce waste and how do these initiatives contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of the healthcare sector?
  • How can these initiatives be disseminated widely?
  • How do we shape this into an international research agenda? Together with professionals of the 'Cochrane Sustainable Healthcare group’ and the 'Centre for Sustainable Healthcare', we will draw this up. We exchange knowledge and insights, as well as share best practices.

Take a look at our research content concerning the challengeTake a look at our research content concerning the challenge

The relevant research information and results on these three subjects, you will find in at the sections Publications, Projects, News, etc. on this webpage.

Want to know more about another societal challenge? Click on its label.



Zenderen, I. van (Nivel Research Communication Center). Societal challenge - Sustainable healthcare. From: [Last update 12-February-2024; consulted on 18-July-2024]. URL: