The Big Deal About Healthcare IT

Irfan Khan

The U.S. healthcare industry is arguably the world’s largest, most inefficient information enterprise, but interoperable EHRs may help trim up to $371 billion annually.

Among all industries, healthcare stands to benefit the most from better use of IT. For one thing, I’m aware of no other market in the world plagued with such staggering amounts of wasteful spending. According to a chart published in The Economist, in 2009 unnecessary healthcare expenditures in the U.S. alone ran between $600-800 billion dollars. Given that in 2009 U.S. healthcare spending reached$2.5 trillion, roughly one in four healthcare dollars in the United States went down the drain that year.

Source: IntelFreePress/Flickr

It’s a perfect opportunity for IT.

Looking at just one area, electronic health records (EHR), the benefits in the U.S. alone are impressive. EHRs promise to cut waste through such basic IT concepts as digitizing paper documents, eliminating the need to hunt down records in storerooms filled with overflowing file cabinets.

According to a Rand study, by implementing interoperable EHRs, savings to the nation will be between $141 to $371 billion annually. The key word there is interoperable. International standards bodies, such as HL7, are working on a layered approach to EHRs along the lines of the exceptionally successful International Standards Organization seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection networking model. In its annual report, HL7 outlines its progress, such as certification of health professionals around the globe.

On a smaller scale, Michigan State University studied real-world EHR environments, where even a small practice of four doctors saved more than $60,000 a year per practitioner. The detailed MSU research showed that the four-physician practice was able to reduce its support staff by 1.4 in labor hours and also reduce costs for transcription services by $53,900 each year.

Once health records are digitized, additional gains will come from applying basic IT best practices to them. That is, identifying business processes, using automated tools where possible, then collecting and analyzing the data to identify more processes where efficiency can be improved.

But the greatest promise of IT benefit to healthcare transcends the undoubted efficiency EHRs and streamlined processes. It will be found in more precise diagnoses and better treatments with the aid of big data and predictive analytics. I will evaluate some of those possibilities in my next post.


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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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IoT Can Keep You Healthy — Even When You Sleep [VIDEO]

Christine Donato

Today the Internet of Things is revamping technology. IoT image from American Geniuses.jpg

Smart devices speak to each other and work together to provide the end user with a better product experience.

Coinciding with this change in technology is a change in people. We’ve transitioned from a world of people who love processed foods and french fries to people who eat kale chips and Greek yogurt…and actually like it.

People are taking ownership of their well-being, and preventative care is at the forefront of focus for both physicians and patients. Fitness trackers alert wearers of the exact number of calories burned from walking a certain number of steps. Mobile apps calculate our perfect nutritional balance. And even while we sleep, people are realizing that it’s important to monitor vitals.

According to research conducted at Harvard University, proper sleep patterns bolster healthy side effects such as improved immune function, a faster metabolism, preserved memory, and reduced stress and depression.

Conversely, the Harvard study determined that lack of sleep can negatively affect judgement, mood, and the ability retain information, as well as increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death.

Through the Internet of Things, researchers can now explore sleep patterns without the usual sleep labs and movement-restricting electrode wires. And with connected devices, individuals can now easily monitor and positively influence their own health.

EarlySense, a startup credited with the creation of continuous patient monitoring solutions focused on early detection of patient deterioration, mid-sleep falls, and pressure ulcers, began with a mission to prevent premature and preventable deaths.

Without constant monitoring, patients with unexpected clinical deterioration may be accidentally neglected, and their conditions can easily escalate into emergency situations.

Motivated by many instances of patients who died from preventable post-elective surgery complications, EarlySense founders created a product that constantly monitors patients when hospital nurses can’t, alerting the main nurse station when a patient leaves his or her bed and could potentially fall, or when a patient’s vital signs drop or rise unexpectedly.

Now EarlySense technology has expanded outside of the hospital realm. The EarlySense wellness sensor, a device connected via the Internet of Things, mobile solutions, and supported by SAP HANA Cloud Platform, monitors all vital signs while a person sleeps. The device is completely wireless and lies subtly underneath one’s mattress. The sensor collects all mechanical vibrations that the patient’s body emits while sleeping, continuously monitoring heart and respiratory rates.

Watch this short video to learn more about how the EarlySense wellness sensor works:

The result is faster diagnoses with better treatments and outcomes. Sleep issues can be identified and addressed; individuals can use the data collected to make adjustments in diet or exercise habits; and those on heavy pain medications can monitor the way their bodies react to the medication. In addition, physicians can use the data collected from the sensor to identify patient health problems before they escalate into an emergency situation.

Connected care is opening the door for a new way to practice health. Through connected care apps that link people with their doctors, fitness trackers that measure daily activity, and sensors like the EarlySense wellness sensor, today’s technology enables people and physicians to work together to prevent sickness and accidents before they occur. Technology is forever changing the way we live, and in turn we are living longer, healthier lives.

To learn how SAP HANA Cloud Platform can affect your business, visit It&Me.

For more stories, join me on Twitter.


About Christine Donato

Telling the tale of how technology makes the world run a little better. Passionate SAP employee. Avid writer. Lover of travel and new adventures.

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How To Prepare Your IT Landscape For The Digital Economy

Sei Drake

Remember Tom Cruise’s 2002 movie Minority Report? Set in the futuristic world of 2054, the film featured self-driving cars, autonomous manufacturing robots, and multimedia advertising billboards that broadcast personalized messages to individuals as they passed by. What seemed like science fiction in 2002 is now a reality, with personalized and targeted social media and marketing, smart technologies such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, and 3D printing – not to mention digital machine-to-machine hyperconnectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT). Digital transformation means that all of these things will become the norm in the next few years. The future of many enterprises will depend on their ability to embrace these technologies and innovations.

Over the last two decades, many companies have built large, complex IT landscapes to support traditional business processes. The legacy systems in these landscapes were not designed for the age of Internet hyperconnectivity and the resulting high data and transaction volumes. Extending these landscapes to support new, digitally connected processes and models will further complicate IT landscapes and inhibit business innovation and agility.

The architecture of the digital enterprise will not only need to support Big Data and analytics, but a host of other things. It must also use the datastream from evolving digital technologies to trigger actions and alerts in new and existing business processes, enabling increased revenue, improved customer experience, enhanced supply chain efficiencies, and innovative business models.

To keep pace with rapid change, businesses like yours need to do three things:

  1. Simplify your IT landscape.
  1. Transition to modern platforms such as cloud-based solutions and a “digital core.”
  1. Build innovative business solutions using the latest digital capabilities to  strategically differentiate from both current and future new competitors.

Yet most organizations lack the skills to tackle these tasks alone. So who can best help you navigate this shift? 

Support for a strong foundation 

Surprise! Your best choice may be the support organization of your enterprise software and solutions provider. Over the past 15 years, many enterprise support organizations have evolved beyond providing reactive break/fix support to acting as an architectural quality advisor that can oversee the complete software lifecycle. The support provider is a smart partner for both proactive landscape simplification and co-innovation initiatives.   That’s a fundamental shift driven by the market forces of this “new normal” of digital transformation.

Support providers tend to be close to their customers, understanding their existing technologies, business processes, and revenue models. And because software solution providers often lead in the introduction of new solutions based on the latest innovations and technologies – such as IoT, cloud, robotics, autonomous cars, and 3D printing – their experienced support teams can architect solutions that will give you a strategic and sustainable advantage over your competitors.

The proof is with customers. For example the Global Service & Support organization at SAP is working with a Fortune 100 chemical company on an IT simplification initiative. After numerous mergers and acquisitions over the years, this company needed help consolidating four unique IT landscapes into one. What is an overly complex, burdensome infrastructure will be a simplified, modern solution architecture.

SAP is also working with a large energy distribution company to co-engineer an innovative Big Data, IoT data management solution. The solution is structured to deliver fast, responsive analytics from a data store of 120 terabytes of smart meter data. The utility will use predictive analytics to anticipate demand, allowing buyers to make smarter wholesale energy purchases. In the future, this Big Data and analytics platform will be extended to support innovative solutions for the utility’s customers.

Minimize risk and maximize outcomes 

Working with support organizations to simplify and innovate offers clear benefits, too. These teams are naturally close to their development organizations. They understand cutting-edge technology and they have direct access to the best talent for building new solutions. Support organizations also have extensive experience working in high-volume, high-velocity transaction and data environments.

Because they already know your business and your technology infrastructure, partnering with your software and solutions support provider can reduce risk. Remember that support organizations are measured on their ability to help their customers succeed, not on maximizing billable hours. In a world of “outcomes-based” solutions, that’s a true win-win for all.

When building innovative solutions, support teams develop in short cycles, conduct proof-of-concept exercises, and take steps to minimize cost and risk. And they can do all of this while helping you continue supporting your traditional business operations, looking for opportunities to optimize processes, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.

We may not be able to predict what innovations and new technologies will exist in the year 2054, but we know that there are technology advancements available now that will have a significant impact on our world. Work with your enterprise software provider’s support organization and start planning your digital transformation.

Click here to learn more how Global Service & Support can provide support services to help you prepare for the digital economy and realize rich value.  Visit us at


About Sei Drake

Sei Drake has been helping SAP customers for over 18 years as a solutions expert and architecture advisor. In his current role as a Co-Engineering Architect in the Global Service and Support organization, he helps customers build innovative, industry leading capabilities with SAP technologies.

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