News items Rosella Hermens appointed professor of Person-centered oncological integrated care

7 April 2022

Rosella Hermens has been appointed Professor of Person-centered oncological integrated care at Radboud university medical center/Radboud University. She investigates how care for patients with cancer can become more person-centered and better organized, while the patient remains in control. 

Rosella Hermens has worked as a researcher at the IQ Healthcare department of Radboud university medical center since 1995. In the next five years, and in her new position as professor of Person-centered oncological integrated care, she will focus on research to improve the person-centeredness of oncology care through the implementation of shared decision making and eHealth tools for self-management of patients with cancer. Conversations between patients and healthcare providers often focus on the scientific knowledge about a disease, for example possible treatments, but the personal situation of a patient is of great importance in mapping out the right route. "I want to investigate how we put the patient first and allow them to take control," says Hermens. For example, tools like the CMyLife platform for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia patients and a decision aid about aftercare for patients with head and neck cancer are currently being investigated. In addition, her research focuses on improving the collaboration and coordination of oncology care through the optimization of integrated care.

Cervical cancer screening at the general practitioner

Rosella Hermens (1962, Nijmegen) attended the Higher Laboratory Training and worked at the Department of Clinical Oncology in Leiden for several years, where she investigated genes that might cause ovarian cancer. She then studied Biomedical Sciences at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, after which she obtained her doctorate in 2003 with research on screening for cervical cancer by general practitioners (title of thesis: 'Cervical cancer screening: quality improvement interventions in General Practice'). She is one of the founders of this screening, which until then was carried out by Public Health Service GGD.

Increased risk of ovarian cancer 

One of her current lines of research focuses on women who carry the BRCA gene, which increases the risk of ovarian cancer. A decision aid allows women to choose between two different treatments within a study setting. An initial study showed good results, so safety is now being investigated internationally, again using the decision aid. Hermens and her colleagues received the RIHS Patient Involvement Award for these studies, which were set up together with patients. 

Less variation in quality of care

Rosella Hermens also focuses on improving collaboration between healthcare providers from different departments, both within and outside Radboud university medical center. Hermens: "For pathology, there are now structured reporting forms for many conditions. Using these improves the completeness and clarity of the pathology reports. Ultimately, it even increases the chances of survival in cases of colon cancer, for example, if the method of reporting is complete and uniform. However, these forms are currently not used by everyone. In an implementation project, subsidized by the Dutch Cancer Foundation KWF, we are improving this."

Hermens will investigate this in other disciplines as well: "Healthcare in the Netherlands is very good, but the variation is sometimes still too large. For example, guidelines for fertility preservation of young women with cancer are not always followed, as research by one of my PhD students has shown. With my research, I hope that in five years' time we can say that we have been able to help more patients with cancer in a personalized way."

In addition to conducting research, Hermens also focuses on teaching. Here, on the one hand the focus is on the methodology of improving the quality of oncological care, specifically with regard to person-centeredness and optimal organization of care, and on the other hand on how best to involve patients in research.

Ms. Prof. R.P.M.G. Hermens is appointed professor of "Person-centered oncological integrated care", effective March 1, 2022, for five years.

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Pauline Dekhuijzen

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