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“‘Not knowing’ is where progress begins”

Frustration. That one word aptly sums up exactly how Hicham Shatou felt earlier this year when the Dutch healthcare system became overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. “There was so much more we could have done beforehand for all of those healthcare workers who risked their lives day in, day out to save strangers.” The CEO & Founder of LeQuest takes a look back on a pandemic that has permanently changed the future of healthcare.


Confirming purpose

When the first wave of Covid-19 patients brought the hospitals to their knees in no time, Shatou did not hesitate for a moment: All LeQuest training courses for ICU-related medical equipment were made available free of charge. Hospitals around the world gratefully accepted this offer of help from an unexpected source. “The first need, of course, was to obtain enough ICU equipment, but the greatest challenge soon proved to be the shortage of specialists to operate the equipment.” The New York Times sounded the alarm in November due to a surplus of ventilators in the U.S. but not enough specialists to run them. “Many people died because some healthcare professionals weren't trained well-enough to use life-saving machines. That’s simply unacceptable and exactly why I originally came up with the idea for LeQuest,” says Shatou.

Training as the foundation of flexibility

Since establishing the company in 2011, this passionate CEO has been on a quest to convince hospital administrators that medical equipment training forms the very foundation for enhancing the flexibility of healthcare staff. Whereas this was previously considered an afterthought, the coronavirus crisis has opened the eyes of many an administrator.

From one day to the next, healthcare staff have had to care for patients with an illness unfamiliar to them in a unit where they do not normally work and with equipment they have never seen before. “How do you empower these individuals, so that they can focus all of their attention on doing their job with confidence? By giving them the tools to train and familiarize themselves with the medical equipment at their own time and pace. And, consequently, giving them the possibility to focus their energy on their work. That is precisely the idea behind the design of our simulation-based e-learning modules.”

Awareness is step one

Now that the importance of highly flexible healthcare professionals has become so painfully clear, the CEO of LeQuest believes that the focus now should be on perseverance. “It is evident that we have to create an educational infrastructure that enables healthcare professionals to retrain more quickly and more easily.” He points out the relevance of an integrated approach that focuses on the standardisation of onboarding processes, development of virtual environments and integration of training courses aimed at clinical knowledge and medical technological skills. Shatou’s vision of the future surpasses the perspective of the individual hospitals. “Why should an anaesthesiologist at hospital A not have the possibility to temporarily provide assistance when needed at hospital B?”

Time for a mentality change

To arrive at a comprehensive solution, the founder of LeQuest advocates a different perspective on operational management in healthcare. “The focus is always on risk avoidance. We analyse, come up with solutions and then act. But in today’s rapidly changing situation, that means that we’re always lagging behind.” Shatou argues in favour of a mentality change: “We need to create an innovation culture in which we accept that we simply don’t always know how things are going to develop. And then act in spite of that uncertainty.” Without experimentation, certain medicines would never have been developed. Healthcare policy would also benefit from being based more on hypothesis formulation, flexibility, collaboration and action. Continuous evaluations and calibrations also ensure a continuous learning cycle that can create and maintain a flexible organisation.

On a mission

But, according to Shatou, you can only achieve such sustainable flexibility if you have an extremely solid foundation. “A foundation that forms the most important basis for continuous and future-oriented training and education. At LeQuest, we are more than happy to play an important role in creating just that. We currently do this with our simulation-based digital training courses, but an entirely different tool may be needed in the future. The world is changing and we are evolving along with it. That is why we’re called LeQuest. We’re on a mission. And that mission is to enable each and every healthcare worker to get the most out of medical technology on a daily basis and with complete confidence. How we fulfil that mission is not relevant. But fulfilling the mission is literally a matter of life and death.”