A word from the president
2017 has begun and soon, on the 23rd of March, we will celebrate the annual meeting of our society. In the preparation of the organisation of that meeting, the daily board of the VvS+OR took the initiative to meet with the boards of the individual VvS+OR sections as well as with societies dedicated to statistics and OR that are not part of the VvS+OR (e.g. Chemometric Society and Dutch Society for Ordination and Classification). The agenda for these meetings was as follows: 1. What does the section want to achieve, what are its main objectives?; 2. To which extent can the section achieve its objectives on its own, that is, independently of the VvS+OR?; 3. How can the VvS+OR help the section to achieve its objectives, does the VvS+OR have added value for the section?; 4. What should be the objectives of the VvS+OR in the near future? As can be read, the meetings were intended to clarify the role of the VvS+OR in relation to the sections and other societies.
An important conclusion of the meetings described above was that the annual meeting of the VvS+OR should, as much as possible, reflect joint interests and involve joint efforts. The annual meeting should also be a networking event where many statisticians and OR people from various backgrounds can meet and inform themselves about developments in their own field as well as in neighbouring fields, both for theory and practice. Some further meetings and discussions between board and sections led to the topic of Health Care for the Future as a central theme for the annual meeting in 2017. This was considered to be an actual theme that elicits discussion at many levels in society, to name a few: politicians, policy makers, insurance companies, medical centres, citizens, etc. At this moment, the Dutch government spends 85 billion Euros per year on health care and it doesn’t look as if this budget is open to strong increases while the demands do increase because of the aging of the population. Doctors did ask the politicians to make choices (de Volkskrant, 21 January 2017), for example, do the Dutch want to improve general care for the elderly for a longer period of their life, or do they want to invest in the development of cures for relatively rare diseases?
Statistics + OR can contribute in important aspects to this debate on where to go with health care. New medical techniques require new statistical + OR methods for improving the medical practice or to make that practice more efficient. Quantitative methods are also important for the assessment of the quality of medical interventions and protocols; they help in evaluating and comparing scenarios. Furthermore, statistics + OR can develop indicators for monitoring the quality and efficiency of health care.
It is obvious that health care is a theme that touches on the interests of many people and any contribution to improving its quality and efficiency will attract the attention of a diverse audience. Therefore, health care is a theme by which the VvS+OR can show the Dutch audience that statistics + OR are highly relevant to science and society. The VvS+OR wants to increase the recognition and visibility of statistics + OR as a field and simultaneously of the involved scientists. As a consequence, additional funds may go to research for statistics + OR and more students may enroll in training and education programs, which in the end should lead to a higher level of statistics + OR in The Netherlands.
On the 23rd of March, thanks to the contributions of the sections of the VvS+OR, we can present an excellent program for our annual meeting. The important role of statistics + OR in the development and evaluation of health care will be demonstrated convincingly, thereby giving ample attention to scientific and policy aspects. Elsewhere in STAtOR you can find the speakers, titles and abstracts. I hope to welcome many of you on the 23rd of March.
Fred van Eeuwijk
President of the VvS+OR