Time to Look Upstream

Root Cause Analysis of our Health Issues

Our healthcare system is especially specialized in fixing health issues. We spend most of our time and money on curation, an act which is located downstream the health continuum. We have brilliant, dedicated and passionate healthcare professionals without whom the damage of Covid would have been magnitudes larger. They’ve been on the front-lines, taking risks to save the lives of our family, neighbors and friends.

Social Determinants of Health

While I have no specific expertise in health policies or healthcare systems one seemly simple concept always struck me since I’ve learned about it about quite some time ago: the Social Determinants of Health.

The Social Determinants of Covid-19

Whereas the need to look more upstream was already present long before Covid-19 entered our world, Covid-19 exemplifies how the social determinants impact our health and wellbeing.

Addressing Health Locally

When you spend most of your money downstream (e.g. only 3% procent of the EU healthcare budget goes to prevention) it’s hard to fix issues upstream or to even incentivize people at all levels to reflect about these root causes and how to fix them.

Social Prescribing

One way to better address health locally is through social prescribing. Social prescribing is a concept where health professionals refer patients to support in the community, in order to improve their health and wellbeing. It has gained support in the NHS and Canada and makes sure that the non-medical needs are as well detected and supported by healthcare professionals.

Social Prescribing in Belgium

With the support of the city of Antwerp I had the opportunity to build and launch a Social Prescribing platform named Zipster as a joint collaboration between Health Endeavour and NSX. Zipster can be used by healthcare professionals to perform a social needs screening and will, based on the detected social needs, suggest local organizations to which the patient can be referred. It facilitates the actual referral and follow-up between the healthcare and welfare professionals in a secure manner.



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Stijn Coolbrandt

Stijn Coolbrandt

Digital Health Technologist | Founder Health Endeavour