Meet the family: 1 minute with Heidi van Mierlo of Mijzo

25 June 2021

MindLabs is not only an association with dreams and ambitions, we are also a partnership made up of many different parties. One big family, with members and partners we are all proud of. In the section 'Meet the family; 1 minute with...' everyone will introduce themselves to you in turn. Very briefly, because the family is big. What are they doing with their business and why are they doing it? In this edition: Heidi van Mierlo, strategic advisor on innovation at Mijzo.

Heidi, let me come straight to the point: What's the core business of Mijzo?
Mijzo is there for people with major health challenges. We are there for the elderly, recovering patients and people with chronic diseases. We provide healthcare in the region between the four major cities of Breda, Gorinchem, Den Bosch and Tilburg. Whereas previously we were three different organisations in Central and West Brabant – De Riethorst Stromenland, Volckaert and Schakelring – on 1 January 2021 we merged to form Mijzo. By joining forces, we have more knowledge and expertise to tackle the social challenges and ensure a wide range of healthcare products. 

What is your dot on the horizon?
We merged very recently so we are currently busy defining a new strategy. But what's already certain is that we're facing a major social challenge. The aging population is going to double in size and there are too few healthcare providers to continue providing healthcare in the same way in the near future. We want to support the elderly in our region to live independently at home for as long as possible. We do this with outstanding care and support from our various areas of expertise. To reach that dot on the horizon, we'll have to approach and organise things differently. It's therefore up to us to get everyone properly involved (and keep them involved) during this transformation.

Motivated by ambition? Idealism? Or passion?
Probably all three, but for me personally it's out of passion. What I do doesn't feel like work. I have it in me to work on new concepts, to look at things differently and to think bigger. The fact that I'm doing this in the healthcare sector has something to do with idealism. I believe that the collection of sound, usable data and smart algorithms will increasingly support us in the healthcare we provide. We are already seeing this in the diagnosis of certain diseases but hopefully it will also help to cure certain diseases. 

Of course, we need to talk to each other about secure infrastructures and what data you want to share with whom. And then, of course, you have the ethical aspects. We need to use technology to make things more efficient and to free up enough hands to do what technology can't do: loving, professional healthcare and really being there for the client.

We have a huge task to fulfil in providing healthcare for the elderly. That's why we are seeking out cooperation on a number of levels; we can't do this alone. The innovation department within our organisation is important in this respect. This department operates in the broadest sense of the word. We develop and implement social and technological innovations. And we are experimenting with robots, AI and serious gaming because we want to learn how these technologies can be applied in healthcare. In addition, we believe it's important to help suppliers and developers with the continued development because we know that if we want to continue to offer high-quality healthcare, things will have to change quickly. 

How are you connected to MindLabs?
We've recently entered into a partnership with MindLabs. In doing so, we are committing ourselves to a number of great projects. We want to contribute to the thinking about how we want to or can share and interpret which data. In return, we hope for connection and links with the other partners in the eco-system. We're extremely curious about that! We can't wait.

And how long have you been in the family?
Since the end of April, although we've known each other for a little longer. Because of the merger, it took a little longer so that everyone involved could get to know each other. We're eager to embark on this adventure with MindLabs and the other partners.

What do you consider to be the holy grail in such cooperation?
When it comes to healthcare and our areas of expertise, we know a lot but we don't have a monopoly on wisdom. That's why we want other parties to take a fresh look at our services and our sector in order to come up with new insights. In our view, cooperation is essential to solve the complex issue at hand.

And what do you gain from it in the meantime?
The opportunity to discover, learn, explore and meet up. Reaching our ultimate goal takes time and unfortunately time is not on our side. We have to do it now! This cooperation is helping us do that.