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Author's profile photo Bernhard Escherich

Mobile and big data are not enough for healthcare

Healthcare customers are among the frontrunners of SAP innovation. Just think of the Charité university hospital Berlin with his impressive electronic medical record implementation and the Onkolyzer, a HANA application leading the way to better treatments of cancer patients and personalized medicine.

But there is another success story of innovation going on in healthcare complementing mobile and big data innovations sometimes a bit under the radar of public attention: the business rules framework + (BRF+) developed by Carsten Ziegler and his team. Within the last two years the BRF+ has gained tremendous attraction for healthcare customers due to their specific conditions.

With BRF+ as part of Netweaver you can implement and manage all rules independent of the application logic. Healthcare customers normally have a vast amount of siloed applications: patient administration, laboratory information system, clinical information system, radiology system and so on. Many of them are outdated due to the cost cuttings in healthcare over the last years. With business rules management the customers are able to use the rules engine for the implementation of new rules giving back the results to the underlying systems via services without touching the underlying application  logic. 

Sometimes even more important for healthcare customers you can simulate the outcome of the application of a set of complex rules. During audits you are able to prove which rules you have used at any given point of time.

Two typical use cases can illustrate why BRF+ can be so important:

  • Lab results:

Clinicians regularly order lab tests for their patients often from different laboratory information system (LIMS) depending on the kind of sample which should be tested (e.g. blood, skin samples). In many cases they get only the final result of each sample and have difficulties to analyze all this results in combination with each other. With BRF+ this problem can be solved and helps the clinician tremendously.

  • Clinical pathways

The treatment of patients is more and more based on guidelines (e.g. lab results A means treatment B). In many cases a simple algorithm as the one mentioned before is not enough and a complex algorithm is needed. Until recently is was very difficult to ensure adoption of more complex algorithms as physicians need to check complex diagrams in order to find the right path. In many cases clinicians avoided such activities due to time constraints and more often relied on their experiences. Jerome Groopman and Atul Gawande, two famous clinicians have written bestsellers demonstrating the dangers of “gut feeling diagnosis” and narrow minded medical thinking.

With the BRF+ this complex algorithm for pathways can be checked and sometimes even more important maintained by the doctors themselves thus avoiding the huge binders with complex diagrams.

I do not want to go on the administrative side of hospital IT in this blog but one thing is for sure: You can optimize the billing as well by the application of this tool as customers have already demonstrated.

The last example outlines a central point: BRF+ is not for techies alone. If clinicians with all their pressure are taking the time to deep dive into BRF+ as they quickly grab the advantages for their work I am deeply convinced that it is worthwhile for many organization to have a look at it as well.

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