▶️Theme Intro | Screening & Prevention – Helan
Why does prevention move, and why now?
The need for prevention is more pressing than ever, as chronic diseases continue to afflict an ever-growing number of people, leading to not only personal difficulties but also significant societal and economic consequences. Additionally, with an aging population, the challenges of meeting the expanding and complex demands for care are becoming even more pronounced. However, prevention has been demonstrated to be effective in mitigating, detecting, or avoiding certain diseases. A healthy lifestyle can substantially improve an individual’s health while also easing the burden on care systems and costs. Helan is dedicated to promoting health and aims to provide personalized guidance to empower individuals to take charge of their well-being and make meaningful strides towards a healthier lifestyle.
What underlying problems does it solve, and what is the scale of the problem?
Helan is tackling the issue of menopause, which has been neglected in Belgium and is still stigmatized and shrouded in misinformation. Menopause presents a substantial challenge for women as it can cause a range of symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, urinary issues, sexual dysfunction, mood changes, and more. This new phase of life, which accounts for about 1/3 of a woman’s life, also has a social impact, especially on women’s relationships, and can affect their partners as well. Additionally, there is a significant but overlooked economic impact, as 75% of women experience menopause-related symptoms that may persist. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can make a significant difference in how women cope with menopause and improve their overall well-being.
Menopause is usually perceived as a women’s problem rather than a societal issue that needs addressing holistically. How do you see it?
The topic of menopause has long been overlooked, and the accompanying stigma remains pervasive. Women are increasingly seeking information for themselves, but unfortunately, they must navigate a vast sea of misinformation. Consulting healthcare professionals only occurs when symptoms become severe, and the role of the menopause consultant is not well understood. Therefore, the challenge lies in identifying when a woman is entering perimenopause and developing customized solutions tailored to her individual needs to assist her in coping with menopause and preserving her self-confidence, which will have a far-reaching impact on her physical and mental well-being, as well as her relationships with others and her work productivity. Creating a supportive environment where both women and their partners can contribute is critical to solving this issue effectively. Given that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the impact can vary across different levels, collaboration among stakeholders is essential to establish a comfortable environment where everyone can add value and work together to overcome this challenge. With the aging population, this issue affects a large and growing segment of society, emphasizing the urgency of addressing it in a comprehensive and effective manner.
It’s the first time Hack Healthcare sees a challenge entirely and exclusively dedicated to women’s health. We know women’s health has historically been under-researched and overlooked in many areas of healthcare, resulting in significant gaps in knowledge, diagnosis, and treatment options for women’s specific health needs, is this something you’re committed to?
The market is evolving, and women’s health is emerging as a prominent topic. Numerous organizations are working on this subject from various perspectives, such as knowledge, diagnosis, treatment, and well-being. As Helan, we aim to play an active role in this movement by forging robust relationships with other stakeholders in the ecosystem. By collaborating with them, we aim to provide women with a solution that has a genuine positive impact on their lives.
At Helan, we are committed to making a meaningful difference in people’s lives by helping them attain better health and well-being. While we recognize the enormous potential in addressing women’s health, we are not solely focused on this demographic: we also aim to develop innovative solutions that cater to the needs of other target groups.
Who are you the most excited to see working on your challenge during the event?
I am thrilled to witness a diverse range of individuals and professionals come together to work on this challenge. From women of all ages and their partners to healthcare professionals such as GPs, psychologists, gynaecologists, hormone specialists, data scientists, researchers, and many more, each person has a unique set of skills and knowledge to bring to the table. While I am excited to see these individuals contribute to the challenge, I am also eager to discover new faces and talents that may bring an unexpected perspective and innovative approach to the challenge.
Kim Smets has a background in Movement and Sport Sciences and worked for the past 10 years in the field of healthcare innovation where she advised and coached startups and organizations. Thanks to that experience, she has a broad view of what is happening in the innovation field within healthcare and has a wide network of multiple stakeholders. Since January 2023 she started within Helan as a business developer prevention where she is eager to create added value in het field of prevention. Kim has a hands-on mentality, an unrelenting willingness to learn and a pragmatic, proactive attitude.