Erica Barbazza

NIVEL, Utrecht, the Netherlands

October–December 2019

For secondment video click here.

Since the 1st October, I have extended my morning commute and now travel to the nearby city of Utrecht where I am based at NIVEL –the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research.

Despite having lived in the Netherlands for one year at the time of starting my secondment, this placement has proved to be a true immersion experience: an all Dutch team; Dutch as the office working language; and a wide assortment of hagelslag at the lunch table [chocolate sprinkles to be added to bread with butter, or as I have learnt, first peanut butter, then a mixture of dark chocolate sprinkles and milk chocolate shavings, there’s a difference].

While at NIVEL, I am putting my research on the fitness for use of indicators into practice. My secondment is focused on the use of prescribing indicators in primary care in the Netherlands. The investigation explores users and uses of primary care prescribing data at all levels of the health system: for improving clinical practice at the micro-level; for professional development, external assessment, quality-based payment and optimizing networks at the meso-level and; strategy development, system monitoring and system quality assurance at the macro-level. Given the kaleidoscope of data providers, insurers and ongoing research initiatives, it is proving to be a very practical exercise into the real-world challenges of linking data, analyzing findings and acting on results.

When I am not learning about the complexity of the Dutch system, I am expanding my Dutch vocabulary with colleagues; practicing everything from pleasantries to learning to recognize the Dutch pronunciation of abbreviations like NHG [n-ha-gee], LHV [l-ha-vee], among the many other health system actors in Dutch.