Stories9 August 20225 min

#StartitStories: Teaming up to shape the future of healthcare

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Track Abilities is a startup that helps people get “back to work” who have been away for a long time due to illness, burnout or accidents. They do through quick and personal guidance focused on solutions and perspective.Christelijke Mutualiteiten (CM) has helped fuel the startup’s growth both as a customer and as an investor. Co-founder Ruben Degraeve and CM’s Director of Business Development & Societal Innovation, Steven Hermans, explain how they are stronger together.

More human & more effective absenteeism policies

Track Abilities is an organisation that reduces absenteeism in companies and organisations that are suffering from sick leave. “We guide them back to work,” explains Ruben. “Companies really need the support, because there are not enough efforts made by the government.”

“Beyond the legal framework, there is a need for successful reintegration counselling. It’s refreshing to see how young and innovative companies like Track Abilities are approaching this.”

Steven Hermans
Steven hermans

Steven of CM concurs. “Absenteeism is a real problem,” he says. “Beyond the legal framework, there is a need for successful reintegration counselling. It’s refreshing to see how young and innovative companies like Track Abilities are approaching this. It’s a good combination of supply and demand.”

CM is looking for working solutions in the health sector. “Things where we can see the challenges and the needs,” explains Steven. “In the case of Track Abilities, the challenge is reintegration after absence. Track Abilities offers a unique and effective solution, which as the largest health insurance fund we found very interesting. We’re looking to put impactful health solutions on the market, so this was a great match.”

Evidence-based & scaleable approach

Track Abilities has three founders who are passionate about professional reintegration: Niels Goyens, Rik Roenders and Ruben. Rik and Niels are occupational therapists by training. “We’ve always been involved in the healthcare field, which is how we know each other,” says Ruben. “We decided to join forces through our own startup.”

Immediately after establishing the business in 2021, Track Abilities applied for the Start it @KBC accelerator program. “Start it Accelerate believed in our approach from the beginning,” he recounts. “They were enthusiastic right away. There are lots of different startups that work on sustainability and physical products. You also have health startups that work around concrete applications. Then there’s Track Abilities, which provides a health service.”

What exactly makes Track Abilities so unique? “They are occupational health specialists,” says Steven. “They devised a method and tested the results compared to the usual care. They have seen that the method results in 15% less time away from work, and 12% less relapse.” CM also finds it interesting that the employer is involved at an early stage. “The occupational physician often intervenes much too late,” says Steven. “Getting involved early is important.”

“The methods we use are evidence-based. We depart from solution-focused coaching instead of being problem-focused”

Ruben Degraeve

Track Abilities offers individual guidance for employees, who select their own coach from Track Abilities’ broad network. They also help organisations create good absenteeism policies. “You achieve the best results if you let people take charge of their own path,” says Ruben. The Track Abilities coaches are labour experts who work from a range of disciplines based on their own training and talents. “The methods we use are evidence-based,” Ruben adds. “We depart from solution-focused coaching instead of being problem-focused.”

Shaping the future of healthcare together

Thanks to the collaboration between Track Abilities and CM, even more organisations and individuals will be able to successfully develop absenteeism policies and return to work. Both organisations already have big plans for the future. “CM’s goal is to build up a real healthcare ecosystem,” says Steven. “We had already invested in the Start it @KBC startup BloomUp, which is focused on mental health. We’ll continue to look for these types of partnerships in the future.”

“CM’s help as an experienced health partner has been indispensable,” says Ruben. “CM is a customer and investor, but we will remain independent. There is still so much market potential. Incapacitation has been an even bigger problem since COVID-19, so there is a lot to contribute.” For CM it is also very important that Track Abilities can continue to do their own thing. “At CM we try not to think in terms of competitors, but in terms of synergies,” explains Steven. “I hope that mindset also shifts on a greater scale, because together we are so much stronger.”

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