What is Convergence? And how can it contribute to research and activities within Erasmus MC? During a lunch workshop on Wednesday June the 21st, several members of Jong Erasmus MC came together in the Sophia Children’s Hospital to find out more. During an interactive lecture by Maarten Frens, chairperson of the Health & Technology management board, participants gained first-hand experience with the societal challenges Convergence aims to tackle in an interdisciplinary way.
Most participants, ranging from medical professionals to HR-advisors and all-round facility managers, joined the workshop out of curiosity. Often, they had heard of Convergence, had passed the Convergence Square on their way to work or had attended Jong Erasmus MC events before. Regardless of their background, all of them were interested in the developments and collaborative activities in- and outside the hospital. But to this point, Convergence had been little but an abstract concept.
Convergence research in practice
The abstraction became more tangible when Frens shared a mentimeter and invited participants to list the most pressing challenges in (health)care today. The group came up with a wide range of problems, from the rising risks of pandemics to the development of Artificial Intelligence. Interestingly, their answers reflected four important research themes: Scarcity, Glocal Health Risks, Inequality and Tech & Health development.
Next, Frens gave the group a practical assignment: he asked them to reflect on the staff shortage of healthcare professionals in a plenary discussion. After all, it is expected that this shortage will only increase in the coming years. Once again, participants came up with many different solutions. While some were quick to turn to technological solutions or medical interventions directed towards disease prevention, others suggested to improve working conditions, in an effort to make working in healthcare more attractive.
Practical assignments like these showed participants why people should collaborate across disciplines on defining and addressing problems and solutions in an interdisciplinary way. In doing so, they were introduced to the main characteristics of research within Convergence.
Finally, Frens continued his presentation with information on how TU Delft, Erasmus MC and Erasmus University collaborate within convergence: he discussed the different Convergence programmes (Resilient Delta, Health & Technology, AI, Data & Digitalisation, Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center and Healthy Start) and spoke about the various flagships associated with Health & Technology. In the end, all participants walked out of the room with a deeper understanding of why Convergence is necessary – and how researchers within Convergence work on a common goal: contribute to solutions for complex and urgent societal problems.