A platform to enable collaboration
Collaboration is seen as key to a more sustainable healthcare system, but to be effective, such collaboration should span the industry. It should encompass not only providers, but the research community, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare-related financial organizations, health plan providers and government.
Collaboration among all members of the healthcare ecosystem provides benefits each of those members individually, as well as the overall healthcare system and ultimately, patients.
A service-oriented business process platform can be a foundation for such collaboration, providing both the technological and semantic basis for linking the healthcare ecosystem together.
A business process platform allows companies to efficiently plan, build, and run standard and new business processes (delivered by partners across the ecosystem) while providing a coherent application and integration infrastructure that enables broad user adoption, adaptable processes, trusted information, and the ability to optimize IT. With a flexible business process platform, organizations can respond rapidly to change and drive business process innovation while reducing costs.
Building blocks of a business process platform
A business process platform consists of several fundamental building blocks:
- An integration platform for integrating and running service-enabled business applications
- An extensible repository of enterprise services definitions
- Application logic that implements those services in a robust and reusable fashion through process components
- A composition environment for planning and building flexible and innovative business processes
In addition to platform technology, healthcare organizations need knowledge that will help them make the best use of the platform. With that in mind, SAP Enterprise Services Bundles include not only software, but also a comprehensive set of knowledge products that aim to provide a range of useful information. These knowledge products include:
- The Industry Solution Map. SAP’s Industry Solution Map for Healthcare providers has been extended to include available enterprise services for a given process. (In Engineering a Business Process Platform for Healthcare Part 4 – Here’s the beef, we showed how to navigate all the way down to the technical interface (WSDL) of a service. The solution map also gives partners insights into how complementary solutions can work with SAP solutions.
- Enterprise Service Wikis. Interactive online documentation is available on the SAP Community Network for all the Enterprise Service bundles SAP delivers. Using this Wiki technology, customers and partners alike can comment, contribute and share their knowledge about using the platform for specific business problems. You can find the Enterprise Service Bundle Wiki here. Currently, we have three Wikis specifically for Healthcare: Foundation for Collaborative Health Networks, Resource and Supply Chain Planning for Healthcare Providers, and Patient Administration.
- Process Components Landscape. Enterprise Process Components are product-neutral functional building blocks of applications that are used to model a service-oriented architecture. Read more about the current set of relevant Process Components for Healthcare The Process Component Landscape for Healthcare.
- Integration Models. Integration models can be used to share the dynamics of a process interaction between components. Numerous tools and methodologies exist in the IT industry for this. SAP uses ARIS for NetWeaver to depict the service choreography, for example. Some of these models are made available through the Enterprise Services Repository. Healthcare-specific integration models can provided on request to partners and customers who may be interested in, for example, a service-based integration between their solutions and SAP applications. Also, standards organizations such as HL7 or IHE provide How can SAP eSOA “talks” to HL7 Message?.
Healthcare roadmap for 2008
For 2008, SAP plans to significantly extend the platform by adding healthcare-specific services. We expect bundles for “Patient Administration” and “Medical Activities, Patient Billing & Invoicing” to be delivered at the end of the year. We will also continue co-engineering the platform within the Enterprise Services Community. Besides finalizing the ongoing work on “Resource Management & Scheduling” we also plan to kick-off new Community Definition Groups (if you have special topics in mind, please let us know). With the rollout of the brand-new online collaboration platform it will be much easier to join our working groups for members who cannot travel in person to Walldorf.
A number of healthcare organizations have already started to move forward with the business process platform concept. We have reports on three of these partners (Meierhofer AG, T-Systems Austria and Ortec), who shared their experiences at the 8th SAP Public Services Ecosystem Summit 2008.
In these reports, you can read how:
- Meierhofer AG of Germany used the platform to improve the How to Integrate SAP Patient Management with MEIERHOFER Clinical Information System
- T-Systems‘ new composite application, Integrated Occupancy Planning with a Business Process Platform Approach
- Ortec, a company in the Netherlands that specializes in planning, Multi Resource Capacity Management and Workforce Scheduling.
It is interesting to see how varied these examples are: They cover three different processes (workforce planning, occupancy/bed management, and outpatient management using a decentralized system). And they use three different technology platforms for their applications (.NET, C and SAP). But all have found that the business process platform provides great value not only for them but for our joint customers.
In my Engineering a Business Process Platform for Healthcare Part 6 – Top 10 Reasons why the Industry should embrace the concept I will give the Top 10 reasons why the Healthcare industry should embrace the platform concept.