New Research Collaboration on Quality Optimization of the Acute Elderly Care System

VU Mathematics professors Rob van der Mei and Sandjai Bhulai have secured funding for a four-year research project “Data-driven Optimization for a Vital Elderly Care System in the Netherlands” (DOLCE VITA), aimed at improving the quality of the acute elderly care system in the Netherlands. The project is a new collaboration between the Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI), the Analytics and Optimization group at the VU, Amsterdam University Medical Center (AUMC), Amsterdam Health & Technology Institute (AHTI) and care and welfare umbrella organization SIGRA. The research will be funded by the NWO domain Applied and Technical Sciences (TTW) and a large number of care organizations in the greater Amsterdam area. The total research budget for the project is 1.9 million euros.

09/20/2019 | 1:42 PM

All too often elderly people experience difficulties in receiving prompt, adequate and appropriate care when needed. Temporary care is not always available quickly. The hospitals’ emergency departments are structurally overloaded and placement is often difficult after hospitalization. The result is that the growing group of elderly people with acute health problems cannot be helped properly.

The aim of DOLCE VITA is to develop a mathematical model for predicting the implications of short-term care choices (capacity planning, patient preferences). In addition, the model will answer what-if questions about the consequences of long-term policy decisions (investments, policy changes and innovations) in the health care system. The model can be used to support complex decision-making processes in the care system.

Project leader Rob van der Mei: "I see DOLCE VITA as a great opportunity to tackle a major societal problem together, through this unique bundling of the scientific knowledge and practical knowledge of stakeholders from the elderly care sector."

Co-applicant Bianca Buurman (Amsterdam UMC): “We anticipate a 60% growth in the number of people over 75 in the coming years, a group that has many acute care needs. At the same time, we have to provide care with fewer nurses. That is why it is essential to be able to make good substantiated choices about which interventions help to keep healthcare accessible to everyone and improve outcomes for the elderly.”

The research is conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from geriatrics, data sciences and stochastic modeling. The project involves a user group of a total of fourteen Amsterdam nursing and care homes, general practitioners and hospitals under the flag of SIGRA. CWI is the project's coordinator.