Coachjezelf aims to contribute to digital transformation in healthcare
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NOM Drives: Coachjezelf wants to contribute to digital transformation in healthcare

Drives are the real engine behind growth and development, but to what extent are companies in the Northern Netherlands consciously working on them? And how do they approach it? NOM is curious and, for this column, interviews organizations that are actively exploring their motivations.

Jean-Luc Donders' discipline is even physically visible: under his neat shirt, a powerful bodybuilder's torso stands out. Indeed, working out is daily routine for him. And just as building muscle requires commitment and patience, this entrepreneur is also steadily but resolutely building his healthcare innovation company Coachjezelf.

Jean-Luc studied commercial economics and business administration, although he has always had common ground with the healthcare sector. 'I come from a nest of people with a heart for healthcare,' he explains. 'My father is an internist, my mother a manager in the UMCG. Moreover, I am married to a general practitioner. After my studies, I myself ended up in the pharmaceutical industry. From my position I regularly visited doctors and we worked on an online platform for pharmacy. Actually, the seed for my current company was planted back then. I saw that digitization also offered opportunities to keep the ever-expanding care manageable.'

He delved further into e-health, found a new job in that field, saw opportunities and got good hunches. Three years ago, Jean-Luc decided to turn his ideas into reality in his own company. Why did he take that leap? "When I grow old and look back on my life from a rocking chair, I hope to have created something meaningful. Something that I have worked passionately on with a team. I value the process of building something. With me, nothing comes naturally, I work purposefully and hard for it. Just as I climbed from secondary school, high school and university, I am now building up my company step by step.

Power of self-management

There is also a substantive motivation for his entrepreneurship: 'The advance of digitization in our society has got me thinking,' Jean-Luc says. 'I see the world around me changing because of online possibilities and as an entrepreneur I want to actively move with it. Especially in healthcare, where we have to do something with the rising costs and waiting lists. I believe in attention to lifestyle and the power of self-management. A power that I want to use with Coachjezelf, a platform with empowering online tools. Because I see especially great opportunities for a balanced combination of online and offline help.'

'People like to be in control of their own lives, but if something is going on, they also like to be heard,' the entrepreneur observes. 'Both needs are met with Liv, the first tool we developed within Coachjezelf (see box). Liv is specifically designed for general practices, to coach patients with mild psychological questions more effectively. It works on the basis of positive psychology, helping people regain their strength. The online database is full of accessible assignments and psychoeducation. The mental health practitioner (POH-GGZ) advises patients which components are most appropriate.'

Grip on process

It turns out that patients engage with exercises faster on their mobile or tablet than when they are on paper. Jean-Luc: "Moreover, practice support workers can now track progress online, making the face-to-face appointments more in-depth. This effective interaction is paying off. Both the patients and the practice support workers get more grip on the process with Liv. The great strength of this online tool is therefore shown by the combination of self-reliance and personal contact with a healthcare professional.

'Apps like Liv can also be used preventively,' says Jean-Luc. 'You don't have to wait for complaints to work on your mental and physical health. With this in mind, I already have concepts in place for the next two tools on the Coachjezelf platform: one focuses on healthy eating, the other on healthy exercise. Intended for general practitioners, dieticians, physiotherapists and other primary care providers, but also suitable for personal trainers or gyms. Here, too, the power of the combination applies: get started yourself with online assignments and regular personal consultations with a professional. This way you stimulate healthy behavior in a feasible and affordable way.

The zeitgeist

Jean-Luc already envisions the collection of online tools entirely, but sticks to his step-by-step building method. 'First, the introduction of Liv at GP practices requires all our attention. We are in the spirit of the times, because digitization is advancing and both the government and health insurers are encouraging e-health in abundance. Still, GPs are conservative. The fax is still on duty and there is some trepidation about working online. With the user-friendly Liv, they can take the first step fairly easily. The pilots were very promising and now twenty-five general practices spread throughout the Northern Netherlands are already working with Liv.'

'It is a challenge to enter a market that is still somewhat unaccustomed,' the entrepreneur admits. 'Although I also see this as a great opportunity to actively contribute to a successful digital transformation with Coachjezelf. I know that not everything comes naturally in life and therefore I also know that you can get far with perseverance. I believe in working together, being patient and focusing on the goal, as in this case: contributing to the quality of care. When I hear enthusiastic practice support workers who are already working with Liv tell how empowering this online tool is for their patients, I remember why I am committed to the development of Coachjezelf.


The Liv app is the result of a unique collaboration between Coachjezelf, internet agency Coolminds and Hanzehogeschool Groningen. Entrepreneur Jean-Luc Donders joined the Innovation Workshop E-mental health for the POH-GZZ of the Centre of Expertise Healthy Ageing within the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Students contributed to a well-founded online translation of existing (analog) material.

View Liv's website

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