Jan Hendrik Croockewit is on a soul-searching mission. Beyond function and aesthetic, Nedap Healthcare’s Chief Technology Officer believes in the soul of a product, an essence that cannot be characterized by words but is intuitively recognized by its users. Together with Nedap Healthcare’s research and development team, Croockewit designs technological solutions that bring significant change to large healthcare organizations.
After obtaining his degree in Physics from Delft University of Technology, Croockewit joined global technology firm Nedap in 1988. Starting out in production, he moved on to patent administration at the company’s R&D department. In 1996, Croockewit spearheaded Nedap’s new healthcare division, providing medical and healthcare solutions before branching out to the home health sector. During this time, he began to explore the soul of a product.
“I’m always searching for the soul in the solution,” Croockewit claims. “There is something ‘more’ that makes a product attractive, but it is very difficult to describe. How can you put a kind of a soul into a product, to make it attractive? There are a lot of possibilities to do that.”
Health by Design
As a Design United Visiting Professor, Croockewit brings his unique approach to the University of Twente’s Design Engineering department, which researches and designs solutions for major societal challenges in the field of health and care. Interdisciplinary work within this domain is brought together at the DesignLab. Through this partnership, the department’s ambition is to contribute to the knowledge of behavioral and lifestyle influences.
“We think that design can contribute to increasing people’s health and wellbeing,” Croockewit explains, “so I’m very much interested in subjects with a lot of patients. We will specifically focus on populations that are difficult to reach such as less self-reliant individuals and those with lower SES, precisely those target groups that place larger claims on care. These are complex groups to work with, but groups that are very much in need of change. Changing behaviour is difficult, but if we succeed in making small changes here, we create big impact.”
Exploring other worlds
That said, Croockewit tries to steer clear of conventional research topics, preferring to dig deeper in search of solutions. If nothing else, his nearly thirty years of industry experience has taught him to be cautious of doing things strictly by the book. Instead, Croockewit relies on intuition and keeping in close contact with others.
“You really have to get your ideas from totally other worlds,” Croockewit says. “If you design by following a recipe, the risk is that you are not heading towards the optimal result. If you work more with your intuition, the idea is that you use all your hidden knowledge to arrive at the right solution.”
Given the major shift in the Dutch healthcare system towards more home care, Croockewit maintains that more attention should be paid to changing structures in society. To better assist individuals with low self-reliance, he is interested in revitalizing community structures such as local football clubs and parishes. “I think that it is very important to bring those structures back into society. We are starting to do research on that, not behind our desks but by going into those areas and by trying to organize those structures and build networks on specific subjects.”