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Strengthening strategic positioning to provide better healthcare to children
  • Our client is an academic children’s hospital in The Netherlands looking to strengthen their position as a third-line healthcare provider.

  • We conducted an extensive portfolio analysis to uncover the hospital’s distinguishing factor.

  • Our findings identified the hospital’s key focus areas and allowed them to achieve the performance indicators defined by the Dutch healthcare system: quality, affordability and accessibility.

At a glance:

Setting the scene: First-line, second-line and third-line healthcare in The Netherlands

To better understand how we helped our client, an academic children’s hospital in The Netherlands, it is important to understand how the Dutch healthcare system is structured:

  1. First-line care: general practitioners, physical therapists, dentists, psychologists and midwives.

  2. Second-line care: hospitals with medical specialists, after referral from first-line caregivers. There are currently 100 second-line hospitals in the country.

  3. Third-line care: academic hospitals like our client, who specialize in more complex cases and surgeries, and rare diseases. Third-line hospitals also educate healthcare students and conduct key research on their focus areas. There are currently seven academic hospitals in The Netherlands.

It is also important to note that the costs (for both patients and healthcare providers) increase with each line of care.

Our client’s challenge: Quality, affordability and accessibility

Prompted by a nationwide movement to make healthcare more affordable, our client set out to strengthen their position as a third-line hospital.

This would help them reach the performance indicators defined by the Dutch healthcare system:

  1. High-quality patient experience

  2. Affordable costs of care

  3. Accessibility to care

To achieve these goals and provide the best care to its patients, our client aimed to (re)define its vision and mission. The goal was to draw up a clear, recognizable and broadly aligned portfolio and value proposition, asking important questions like, “What kind of care do we currently deliver?” and “What is our performance on delivering this care?”

Enter IG&H: Information gathering & analysis

We conducted an extensive portfolio analysis in which we gathered key information about the hospital. This included the number of patients, origin of patients, types of diagnoses, costs and revenue of care, number of surgeries, duration of hospital stays, market share compared to other hospitals and topics, and finally both quality and quantity of research and education.

We interviewed the hospital’s department heads and medical specialists, like cardiologists and surgeons, to validate our findings. We also had multiple sessions with the management team to find out what is important for them.

We wanted to uncover their distinguishing factor and identify how the client could provide unique, specialized care to position itself (inter)nationally as a frontrunner on specific diagnoses. Therefore, we also analyzed the correlation between the hospital’s diagnoses and its published research in an effort to determine whether there was a match between their research and the care they offered.


"IG&H conducted extensive and thorough analyses, attractively visualized results and a validation round contributed to well-founded choices and support within the staff. Based on the results, we made some important decisions, like confidently leaving some parts of our care portfolio to other hospitals and focusing on - and investing in - the areas that we are really good at. Three years later, we still use the results of the analysis in our policy."

Head of Pediatrics


The outcome: A new beginning for this academic hospital

After three months, we presented our findings to the hospital’s management team and suggested what kind of care they should focus on in order to strengthen their position as a third-line care provider.

We not only identified our client’s key focus areas – their unique diagnoses and treatments (which even drew in patients from abroad) – but we also found basic care that belongs to second-line hospitals, who can deliver the care with the same quality at lower costs.

As a result of our analysis, our client was able to better position itself and therefore advance toward the industry targets:

  1. Improving the quality of its care by focusing on the diagnoses and care at which they excel and align this with their research.

  2. Reducing costs by offering only third-line care and letting go of second-line care.

  3. Increasing accessibility to care with more room to treat children with rare diagnoses who really need third-line care.

At the end of the project, our client told us that these insights were eye-opening. We are proud to have supported this academic hospital in strengthening its positioning in order to provide better care to children in The Netherlands and beyond.

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