Jessica Storm: Cost-effective healthcare is not equal to lower quality

The healthcare sector is facing limited resources. Without smart innovation, quality of care is at risk for all patient groups. Jessica Storm, an alumna of the master’s programme Healthcare Policy Innovation and Management, researched the cost-effectiveness of fall prevention for one of the largest and most vulnerable patient groups, people older than 65. Her thesis states that fall prevention can save organisations time and money while upholding the quality of life for older people.

Jessica’s thesis, called “A systematic review of economic evaluations of fall prevention interventions for the elderly” won the Catharina Pijls Encouragement Award, which is granted annually to one student with an outstanding thesis.

Fall prevention for older people

About 90% of falls among older people lead to fractures, which are very expensive for healthcare. “Hip fractures are one of the most expensive diagnostics that you can have. My thesis focused on the effectiveness of fall prevention compared to its cost, for older people living at home.” Jessica found that group-based exercise programmes for women over 65 years old were the most cost-effective. 

Her thesis won the Catharina Pijls Encouragement Award, recognising her excellent work. Jessica won 2000 euros she can spend freely. “Winning the award isn’t as important as the attention the topic of elderly care now gets. I spent the entire day discussing with the panel members about my research and the senior healthcare sector.”

A double master’s in healthcare

Jessica recently graduated. During her master’s studies, she participated in a double master’s programme, organised by Maastricht University and the University of Cologne. “Every year, a few students are enrolled in the programme. For me, it was a unique opportunity because the master’s programme Health Economics at Cologne focuses on the German health system and its finances, but Healthcare Policy Innovation and Management at Maastricht University provided a broader international scope including innovational work.”

Jessica adds that Maastricht University also gave her the tools to work on resource management, communication, and stakeholder management. Topics that she will work on daily in the healthcare sector.

Trainee manager in an elderly care home

Through student jobs and internships alongside her studies, Jessica found her passion in working with vulnerable population groups. “Senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. Due to demographic changes and scarce resources in the healthcare sector, cost-effectiveness plays an increasingly important role in healthcare.”

Jessica started working for an elderly care home, in a traineeship for a management position. “After one year, I will be able to lead the care home as the manager.”  Jessica already shows her management abilities by using a part of her prize money for her work: “The night shift staff is in desperate need of a decent coffee machine, I will soon buy them one with the money I’ve won.”

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