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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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Why 3D Printed Food Just Transformed Your Supply Chain

Hans Thalbauer

Numerous sectors are experimenting with 3D printing, which has the potential to disrupt many markets. One that’s already making progress is the food industry.

The U.S. Army hopes to use 3D printers to customize food for each soldier. NASA is exploring 3D printing of food in space. The technology could eventually even end hunger around the world.

What does that have to do with your supply chain? Quite a bit — because 3D printing does more than just revolutionize the production process. It also requires a complete realignment of the supply chain.

And the way 3D printing transforms the supply chain holds lessons for how organizations must reinvent themselves in the new era of the extended supply chain.

Supply chain spaghetti junction

The extended supply chain replaces the old linear chain with not just a network, but a network of networks. The need for this network of networks is being driven by four key factors: individualized products, the sharing economy, resource scarcity, and customer-centricity.

To understand these forces, imagine you operate a large restaurant chain, and you’re struggling to differentiate yourself against tough competition. You’ve decided you can stand out by delivering customized entrees. In fact, you’re going to leverage 3D printing to offer personalized pasta.

With 3D printing technology, you can make one-off pasta dishes on the fly. You can give customers a choice of ingredients (gluten-free!), flavors (salted caramel!), and shapes (Leaning Towers of Pisa!). You can offer the personalized pasta in your restaurants, in supermarkets, and on your ecommerce website.

You may think this initiative simply requires you to transform production. But that’s just the beginning. You also need to re-architect research and development, demand signals, asset management, logistics, partner management, and more.

First, you need to develop the matrix of ingredients, flavors, and shapes you’ll offer. As part of that effort, you’ll have to consider health and safety regulations.

Then, you need to shift some of your manufacturing directly into your kitchens. That will also affect packaging requirements. Logistics will change as well, because instead of full truckloads, you’ll be delivering more frequently, with more variety, and in smaller quantities.

Next, you need to perfect demand signals to anticipate which pasta variations in which quantities will come through which channels. You need to manage supply signals source more kinds of raw materials in closer to real time.

Last, the source of your signals will change. Some will continue to come from point of sale. But others, such as supplies replenishment and asset maintenance, can come direct from your 3D printers.

Four key ingredients of the extended supply chain

As with our pasta scenario, the drivers of the extended supply chain require transformation across business models and business processes. First, growing demand for individualized products calls for the same shifts in R&D, asset management, logistics, and more that 3D printed pasta requires.

Second, as with the personalized entrees, the sharing economy integrates a network of partners, from suppliers to equipment makers to outsourced manufacturing, all electronically and transparently interconnected, in real time and all the time.

Third, resource scarcity involves pressures not just on raw materials but also on full-time and contingent labor, with the necessary skills and flexibility to support new business models and processes.

And finally, for personalized pasta sellers and for your own business, it all comes down to customer-centricity. To compete in today’s business environment and to meet current and future customer expectations, all your operations must increasingly revolve around rapidly comprehending and responding to customer demand.

Want to learn more? Check out my recent video on digitalizing the extended supply chain.

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Hans Thalbauer

About Hans Thalbauer

Hans Thalbauer is the Senior Vice President, Extended Supply Chain, at SAP. He is responsible for the strategic direction and the Go-To-Market of solutions for Supply Chain, Logistics, Engineering/R&D, Manufacturing, Asset Management and Sustainability at SAP.

How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace 

John Hack, Sam Yen, and Elana Varon

SAP_Digital_Workplace_BRIEF_image2400x1600_2The process of designing a new product starts with a question: what problem is the product supposed to solve? To get the right answer, designers prototype more than one solution and refine their ideas based on feedback.

Similarly, the spaces where people work and the tools they use are shaped by the tasks they have to accomplish to execute the business strategy. But when the business strategy and employees’ jobs change, the traditional workspace, with fixed walls and furniture, isn’t so easy to adapt. Companies today, under pressure to innovate quickly and create digital business models, need to develop a more flexible work environment, one in which office employees have the ability to choose how they work.

SAP_Digital_Emotion_BRIEF_image175pxWithin an office building, flexibility may constitute a variety of public and private spaces, geared for collaboration or concentration, explains Amanda Schneider, a consultant and workplace trends blogger. Or, she adds, companies may opt for customizable spaces, with moveable furniture, walls, and lighting that can be adjusted to suit the person using an unassigned desk for the day.

Flexibility may also encompass the amount of physical space the company maintains. Business leaders want to be able to set up operations quickly in new markets or in places where they can attract top talent, without investing heavily in real estate, says Sande Golgart, senior vice president of corporate accounts with Regus.

Thinking about the workspace like a designer elevates decisions about the office environment to a strategic level, Golgart says. “Real estate is beginning to be an integral part of the strategy, whether that strategy is for collaborating and innovating, driving efficiencies, attracting talent, maintaining higher levels of productivity, or just giving people more amenities to create a better, cohesive workplace,” he says. “You will see companies start to distance themselves from their competition because they figured out the role that real estate needs to play within the business strategy.”

The SAP Center for Business Insight program supports the discovery and development of  new research-­based thinking to address the challenges of business and technology executives.

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Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

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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.

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About Christine Donato

Christine Donato is a Senior Integrated Marketing Specialist at SAP. She is an accomplished project manager and leader of multiple marketing and sales enablement campaigns and events, that supported a multi million euro business.

Innovation In Healthcare: Who Cares?

Rakesh Shetty

The world has seen major innovations in health services over the past several years. These advances are enabling reimagined business models that deliver better services and care. The resulting transformation spans across not only healthcare, but also research, law, public services, and insurance sectors. This begs the question: Who benefits from the innovation and who cares? 

The common goal driving healthcare innovation is the delivery of the best care for the most affordable price. To this end, researchers and doctors have devised new techniques based on genomics that deliver precision care. For instance, gene tests can now help breast cancer patients avoid chemotherapy.

Another example is how pharmaceuticals companies are now coming up with personalized drugs for patients. According to data published by the Personalized Medicine Coalition, 42% of all compounds and 73% of oncology compounds in the pipeline have the potential to be personalized medicines.

Meanwhile, policymakers are working with key stakeholders across industry sectors to protect the interests of consumers and especially the underserved. Throughout the industry, everyone involved shares the purpose of improving health at affordable costs for all – and many are reaping the benefits.

Re-imagining business models

Consumers are now much better informed on the choices available to them, including ones on healthcare. In the United States, the Affordable Care Act offers consumers the opportunity to review health insurance from a wide variety of providers and make the best choice for their needs and budget.

To educate consumers on ways to improve their health, insurers are adopting new business models that include a major focus on healthy lifestyle choices. Employers are recognizing that healthy and engaged employees are good for business and they are working closely with the insurers to offer a broad, holistic portfolio of health services to employees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer employers a Worksite Health Scorecard. This helps companies assess if they have science-based health promotion and protection interventions at their worksites to prevent heart disease, stroke, and other related conditions.

Healthcare providers are re-imaging their business models too so they can cater to the informed consumer. For example, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are often acting as the first point of care for patients as they address routine needs that may not require the attention of a doctor. These kinds of services expand the availability of health services while keeping costs down as highlighted in this summary on the effective utilization of APRNs.

Everyone recognizes that healthy choices lead to improved health and that prevention is better than cure.

Actionable insights for better care

Innovations in healthcare continue to unfold everyday at an accelerated pace. For instance, leading research institutions are leveraging Big Data to glean insights from patient data and associated outcomes to deliver precision care.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology can identify patterns in care based on cancer patient profiles. Their researchers can rapidly analyze millions of patient profiles using sophisticated software so doctors can offer precision care to cancer patients with matching profiles. The National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) leverages data from enormous amounts of patient profiles to better identify and treat tumors.

Recently, the healthcare industry introduced a new set of diagnostic codes in the United States. The update is based on the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) tool. There are now 70,000 diagnostic codes for physicians (up from 14,000) and 72,000 diagnostic codes for hospitals (up from 4,000). This new coding system will provide much more granularity for tracking the care delivered to patients and deliver more meaningful insights based on actual patient outcomes. This will further empower consumers, doctors, and care providers to make informed decisions and improve health.

Improving lives

These are major strides in improved health services that benefit the entire community. I am optimistic about the journey ahead – yet there is more work ahead.

The vision and purpose of SAP is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. SAP is already playing a key role in healthcare innovation and will continue to do so. SAP enables healthcare providers to transform their business models with technology that is at the epicenter of progress and innovation. To learn more about how our vision and purpose enables better health around the world, visit here.

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About Rakesh Shetty

Rakesh is Head of Marketing for Strategic Industries at SAP responsible for financial services, retail, public services and telecommunications sectors. He has worked in the software industry for over 18 years in a variety of roles delivering enterprise software solutions with assignments in Asia, Europe and the United States. He has a Masters degree in Computer Science from State University of New York, Binghamton and a MBA from New York University.