Health Care Networking Seeks A Cure

Andreas Schmitz

heart ratePhysicians working in doctors’ practices and hospitals are having an increasingly difficult time.  First, they are having to deal with patients who are more informed than ever and who come to appointments with all the answers before the doctor has even had a chance to study the test results. And now, these same patients not only want all of their diagnostic data, x-rays, and lab analyses stored in an electronic medical record (EMR), but they want to be able to access that record whenever they need it.  In fact, almost half (43%) of the roughly 9,000 patients who took part in a recent worldwide survey conducted by management consultants Accenture said that they would consider switching to a different physician if it meant that they could access their personal electronic medical record.  In Germany, at least, doctors are reluctant on this point: only 12% are in favor of giving patients full access to their medical records.  “Most health centers and clinics already have state-of-the-art IT in place,” says Accenture’s Sebastian Krolop, “they just don’t exchange information with other health care institutions.”

Worldwide, at least three-quarters of doctors report that they have the capability to work with electronic medical records. In Spain, that figure is as high as 95%, while in Germany and the United States, it’s 93%. In practice, however, just under half of all doctors actually use electronic medical records on a regular basis.  There are two reasons for this: either the processes are new and need to become established, or there are unresolved technical issues. In Germany, for example, one of the main obstacles is the lack of binding standards for data transmission.  “Every physician and hospital does it differently,” says Krolop, who, despite the existence of a number of pilot projects, has yet to identify an approach that could potentially be adopted as a shared industry standard.  Currently, patients who are admitted to a hospital in a different federal state from the one they live in will not benefit much from having an electronic medical record.  That’s because it is highly unlikely that the “source” health center or hospital will be using the same data transmission standards as the “target” one.

Singapore set to be first country with full EMR system

Elsewhere in the world, there are a number of examples of how “connected health care” can be implemented:

–  US managed care consortium Kaiser Permanente has built up its own health network for insured members; its nine million customers are obliged to use the 650 clinics and health institutions that belong to the network.  This approach has the advantage of enabling medical experts to make new findings based on the treatment data collected, to set up individual care programs, and – ultimately –to create added value that would not be possible without the network.

– Singapore is currently introducing a nationwide scheme known as the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) system. The idea behind NEHR is that each citizen has a single, centralized medical record for the entire health system (though it will only be accessible to members of the medical profession).  As soon as a patient attends a health center or hospital, the on-site team will be able to call up the relevant data for that patient directly from his or her medical record.  The latest survey by Accenture shows that the use of electronic health information by doctors in Singapore rose from 32% to 49% between 2011 and 2012. Thanks to NEHR, Singapore, with its five million inhabitants, will soon be the first country to adopt the use of electronic medical records in full. “As a small country with a highly centralized decision-making set-up, Singapore offers the ideal conditions for implementing a nationwide EMR system,” says Krolop.

Vendors in Germany have been providing the technology for establishing the use of electronic medical records in hospitals for some time.  Berlin’s Charité, with more than 3,000 beds and over 13,000 employees, is one of Europe’s largest university hospitals. It began a pilot scheme – based on SAP Electronic Medical Record – back in 2011.

You can watch a video about the project here:

So, despite their reputation for shunning IT, there is clearly no lack of willingness among Germany’s physicians to adopt the use of electronic medical records. More than two-thirds of the medics surveyed believe that IT creates added value – not just from the financial perspective, but, more importantly, in terms of making it possible to reduce medical errors, improve diagnosis, and shorten waiting times.

Enormous potential for SAP HANA in-memory technology

Nevertheless, as far as IT in health care is concerned, the evolutionary process still has some way to go.  On a scale of 1 to 3, most health care institutions are lodged somewhere between stages 1 and 2. Stage 1 is where IT is in use and is driving efficiency; lab results, x-rays, and MRI images are available in electronic form. Stage 2 – where data is exchanged between service providers and health care institutions – becomes more complicated because of incompatible transmission standards and security concerns.  Sebastian Krolop describes stage 3 as the point at which it is possible “to gain insight from the data collected”. For example, if certain medications or implants are causing complications on a regular basis, then it makes sense to look at and compare the data of a large number of patients who have taken that medication or had that kind of implant fitted.  “Are there anomalies that need to be addressed during treatment?” asks Krolop, who is a trained doctor and sees enormous potential for deploying SAP HANA in-memory technology in this area.

On the threshold between stages 1 and 2, it is currently the patient who is determining the speed of progress toward connected health.

Over 200,000 health apps currently available

The Aktionsforum Gesundheitsinformationssystem e.V. (Afgis), a federation of bodies and individuals devoted to promoting the quality of health care information in Germany, and the Zentrum für Telematik und Telemedizin (ZTG), Germany’s competence center for health care telematics, estimate that there are over 200,000 health apps currently available, but warn that offerings for smartphones and tablets may not meet the standards of quality that medical experts require of such applications. But that won’t be of much interest to patients: For at the moment, they really don’t have that many options.

Image credit: iStockphoto


Andreas Schmitz

About Andreas Schmitz

Andreas Schmitz is a Freelance Journalist for SAP, covering a wide range of topics from big data to Internet of Things, HR, business innovation and mobile.

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.


Christine Donato

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.


Rakesh Shetty

About Rakesh Shetty

Rakesh Shetty is the Head of Marketing for Strategic Industries at SAP responsible for financial services, retail, public services and telecommunications sectors. Mr. Shetty 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.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


How Manufacturers Can Kick-Start The Internet Of Things In 2018

Tanja Rueckert

Part 1 of the “Manufacturing Value from IoT” series

IoT is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets I am involved with at SAP. The possibilities are endless, and that is perhaps where the challenges start. I’ll be sharing a series of blogs based on research into knowledge and use of IoT in manufacturing.

Most manufacturing leaders think that the IoT is the next big thing, alongside analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They see these technologies dramatically impacting their businesses and business in general over the next five years. Researchers see big things ahead as well; they forecast that IoT products and investments will total hundreds of billions – or even trillions – of dollars in coming decades.

They’re all wrong.

The IoT is THE Big Thing right now – if you know where to look.

Nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and non-production processes and equipment (30%) already incorporate smart device/embedded intelligence. Similar percentages of manufacturers have a company strategy implemented or in place to apply IoT technologies to their processes (34%) or to embed IoT technologies into products (32%).

opportunities to leverage IoTSource:Catch Up with IoT Leaders,” SAP, 2017.

The best process opportunities to leverage the IoT include document management (e.g. real-time updates of process information); shipping and warehousing (e.g. tracking incoming and outgoing goods); and assembly and packaging (e.g. production monitoring). More could be done, but figuring out where and how to implement the IoT is an obstacle for many leaders. Some 44 percent of companies have trouble identifying IoT opportunities and benefits for either internal processes or IoT-enabled products.

Why so much difficulty in figuring out where to use the IoT in processes?

  • No two industries use the IoT in the same way. An energy company might leverage asset-management data to reduce costs; an e-commerce manufacturer might focus on metrics for customer fulfillment; a fabricator’s use of IoT technologies may be driven by a need to meet exacting product variances.
  • Even in the same industry, individual firms will apply and profit from the IoT in unique ways. In some plants and processes, management is intent on getting the most out of fully depreciated equipment. Unfortunately, older equipment usually lacks state-of-the-art controls and sensors. The IoT may be in place somewhere within those facilities, but it’s unlikely to touch legacy processes until new machinery arrive. 

Where could your company leverage the IoT today? Think strategically, operationally, and financially to prioritize opportunities:

  • Can senior leadership and plant management use real-time process data to improve daily decision-making and operations planning? Do they have the skills and tools (e.g., business analytics) to leverage IoT data?
  • Which troublesome processes in the plant or front office erode profits? With real-time data pushed out by the IoT, which could be improved?
  • Of the processes that could be improved, which include equipment that can – in the near-term – accommodate embedded intelligence, and then communicate with plant and enterprise networks?

Answer those questions, and you’ve got an instant list of how and where to profit from the IoT – today.

Stay tuned for more information on how IoT is developing and to learn what it takes to be a manufacturing IoT innovator. In the meantime, download the report “Catch Up with IoT Leaders.”


Tanja Rueckert

About Tanja Rueckert

Tanja Rueckert is President of the Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain Business Unit at SAP.