In 2020 the U.S. National Health Expenditures will reach 19.9 percent of GDP. Along with this high cost of care, the world’s population is getting older. If the healthcare system doesn’t respond to these pressures, a study by MetLife predicts we will see reduction in lifetime wealth and a higher likelihood of poor health.
To better understand the challenges of the healthcare industry, I talked to the three of SAP’s healthcare experts about what we should expect in the near future and how we can identify today’s needs.
Healthcare lacks both face-to-face communication and advanced digitalization, lagging behind other industries. “It’s time to go digital,” says Enakshi Singh, HANA Product Management of Genome Science and Healthcare. “Doctors and nurses spend so much time on typing in the information into computer, instead of interacting with the patient longer. More technology needs to be integrated into healthcare to give the doctors more time to actually treat rather than type.”
Data has been gathered from patients’ medical records as well as hospital monitors, Intensive Care Units, biological research, and more. But the data is not always used to its potential, and often remains completely separated from EMR systems, creating a “lack of real time analytics,” says Singh.
Therefore hospitals need platforms like SAP HANA to analyze big data and create the data models, content, and algorithms necessary for the user to integrate all of the data sets. Singh uses SAP HANA’s work with genomics as an example. “[We can] query data more interactively than before and in real-time to identify diseases at early stages and come up with the most advanced treatments,” she says.
Although digitalization of healthcare often focuses on the provider, technology can also create a better healthcare experience for the patient. “If I’ve just broken my leg, and doctors fixed it, my journey for recovery is much longer than those three days I spent in the hospital,” says Faheem Ahmed, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. Ahmed is the developer of Care Circles, a free service from SAP that helps patients and their families find best practices in caregiving from experts around the world. With Care Circles, “we looked at it from a patient’s perspective,” says Ahmed. “Care Circles is a way to empower a consumer with the information, resources, and the right people who can assist them from day one all the way through their journey.”
Care Circles is a community that continues care beyond the hospital into the home. This is the future of care, Ahmed says. “We look at Care Circles as two parts. For professionals, to monitor all their patients in one program, and for consumers, or patients, to care for themselves and invite their family and friends to follow them in their journey,” he added.
Becoming Smart and Innovative
Unfortunately, the healthcare system is not always conducive to new technology. “To get started in healthcare is nothing like what SAP has done before,” says Dinesh Sharma, Vice President, Cloud Marketing, SAP. Because of regulations and existing systems, it takes a long time to get to market.
But SAP’s disruptive innovation stands out. “We go to the hospitals and talk about co-innovation and what we can do together… We don’t mind rocking the boat as long as we understand what our customer needs,” says Sharma.
One area of potential innovation is the Internet of Things. Hospitals often spend too much money on machines, especially in ICUs, and smart, connected machines bring great potential for cost-savings. Connected hospital equipment can also improve safety and quality of care by reacting faster to irregularities and minimizing mistakes.
SAP’s healthcare experts agree: healthcare is ready for a transformation. Beyond addressing high costs and inefficiencies, we need to put patients first. With SAP’s start-up attitude and co-innovation methodology, we have the opportunity to improve the healthcare industry and simplify a patient’s experience in the hospital and beyond.