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Transcript Blog- The Global Impact of COVID-19 on the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry has been working overtime to care for the sick and keep workers safe during Covid-19. In this episode of Industry Insights by SAP, Josephine Monberg hosts Michael Byczkowski, Global Head of IBU Healthcare Providers at SAP. Michael shares how the healthcare industry has stepped up in response to Covid-19 and how technology can continue to support the industry.

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Josie: (00:03) 
Welcome to the industry insights by SAP podcast series. My name is Josephine Monberg and I am your host. You are now listening to the COVID 19 special edition of our show. Welcome to our podcast. Hey, all of our listeners and welcome to this episode of our podcast. We’re doing these special edition episodes where we take a closer look at the industries and how they’re being impacted by COVID 19 and today we are taking a closer look at the healthcare industry, which is obviously an industry that is massively impacted by our current global pandemic. And to do this I have with me in his home virtual studio, Michael Byczkowski and he is the global head of the healthcare industry at SAP. So obviously a great person to talk about how this industry is being impacted. So Michael, first of all, thank you so much for being with us today.  
 
Michael: (01:07) 
Thank you very much for the invitation. So it was a Josephine, it’s a pleasure of being here.  
 
Josie: (01:11) 
And Michael, before we talk a bit more about the healthcare industry and how it’s being impacted, can you tell us a little bit about what it means to be head of the healthcare industry at SAP and also where in the world you can be found right now?  
 
Michael: (01:26) 
Yeah, so I’m based here out of Waldorf and the SAP headquarter. We are all working from home office. I have a global team, uh, supporting the industry, uh, worldwide. So I have people in the US, I have people in Asia and also people in Europe. We are supporting the customers doing these and normal times and also doing these very unprecedented times. So our life has become much more interesting during the last couple of weeks and months, uh, with many different demands. Also moving across the healthcare, not only health care providers, but also moving into public health, crossing with public sector. So it really has become a really big effort across many industries that are currently involved in. And we try to support our business to really manage this change, manage the demand, and to help them get through the crisis and do what they can do best is really treat people and help us get a safe environment.  
 
Josie: (02:19) 
Hmm. Well I’d say that your role, um, has never been more important than it is right now and I’m sure that you’re doing a lot to hopefully help our customers through those crisis and to take, to start off, what I’d like to do is just to have your take on what’s happening right now. What are you seeing in terms of the impact that is on healthcare industry? I mean, we obviously know it’s massive and we hear a lot in the news, but what’s the impact you’re seeing right now?  
 
Michael: (02:50) 
Yeah, the healthcare industry has impacted very differently than many other industries. So quite some industries, uh, uh, experience a complete lack of demand. Others have been simply shut down like, uh, for example, a travel and in healthcare it’s a shift in demand pattern. So we now obviously have all the patients that are flocking into the hospitals. We have a really huge demand for intensive care units. We have the discussion about ventilators and we have a lot of false demand on the healthcare industries. On the other hand, when you look at the hospitals, there’s also the breach of source of the normal revenue basically broken away because the elective surgeries do not happen anymore for fear of that. You get completely overcrowded in the ICU, in the intensive care units. So it’s a complete shift and it’s also very much unplannable a situation in, in which they are currently. Plus they also need to see that they keep their people, their workers, the nurses and the doctors safe. They need to protect their personal protective equipment. They need the different devices, they need to enlarge the capacities. So it’s really this shift of a completely different demand plus a lack of the usual plannable financial, uh, support and normal way of doing business.  
 
Josie: (04:08) 
Hmm. So it’s really an industry that’s been hit from so many different angles and having to adjust in so many different ways. What have you seen so far in terms of the, what the industry has been doing to respond and maybe also are they using technology to do so? Because I think technology, what I’ve seen so far in my interviews with different industry leaders is that it’s really something that’s accelerated the digital transformation for different industries right now because they suddenly have to rethink how they do business. So what have you seen seen so far in terms of how the industries is responding?  
 
Michael: (04:44) 
Yeah, first and foremost, it’s really amazing what they are delivering. The degree of care, the amount of passion that they put in the nurses and doctors are really working literally day and night to take care of the patients who treat the patients and really focus completely on this specific treatment, particularly in the times until we have found the vaccine, until they have further measures being implemented. So this is all happening completely outside of a digital transformation outside of system support. Of course SAP is helping in keeping the running the systems running that they currently have. So like our industry solution for healthcare, ISH, like the partner solution that we have with our partner sauna ISH Med and others. But we see particularly the primary focus is really keeping the lights up, keeping the patients safe, supporting the nurses and the doctors on the other hand would be also see is this all needs to be managed in a consistent manner. So you need to get access to the personal protection equipment, you need to get access to more beds if you want to really expand your hospital, if you even want to have some emergency like fever hospitals, that is something where SAP helps with the Ariba and other platforms. You can basically more easily get access and search for the specific equipment that you need. But also that is a bit overruled in some aspects by the public sector where there is supply then provided by the local governments, by the regional governments and specific States. So it’s a bit of a mix and match and it really touches each and every aspect of the industry.  
 
Josie: (06:17) 
Hm. And you are, I know you’re working on some projects right now that of course are meant to help the industry. So can you tell a little, tell us a little bit more about the projects that you’re focused on right now?  
 
Michael: (06:29) 
Yeah, so you report somebody, one very interesting project that’s a real life situation when there’s an a patient in the ambulance to which hospitals to transport them. And for that you need to have an overview where it’s bed capacity available. And normally that’s absolutely not an issue. You have your standards. But now particularly in Germany, in [inaudible] County where SAP headquarters is located, we have also the hospitals split in the COVID and into the non-COVID parts logistically so that you don’t keep the infection to a minimum. You don’t have this cross intersection between COVID and non COVID patients. For that there is a specific control room and they are, look, they were looking for a solution that provides them the ad-hoc overview of where to send the particular ambulance. This is where SAP colleagues stepped in and we built within a week, um, a solution based on the SAP cloud platform where all the hospitals can enter their bed capacity and particularly for the different Watts so that it’s not only the intensive care units but that is also about the normal ambulances.  
 
Michael: (07:35) 
That is also about some emergency Watts that are supplementing the demand both for the COVID and non-COVID cases and then the central organization. They can then really direct the ambulance to the nearest hospital that has specific required bed capacity. And for that, that is then an example where basically through the solution itself there’s digital transformation happening because in the end, this is now for fastness of deployment. This is really um, a cloud solution which is extremely well accepted. So it’s not only well accepted by the hospital, the university hospital and in Alba, but also by the local health administration and also the local firebregade and they all work together on that solution to really provide the ambulances with the best possible way to hospitals for treating the patients.  
 
Josie: (08:26) 
Hmm. It’s amazing how we’re seeing human beings coming together, collaborating technology. Also playing its role in all of this. And it sounds like this is a solution that of course we can use now during COVID 19, but also something that can be used more longterm. Would you say that’s true?  
 
Michael: (08:43) 
Yeah, it depends if it’s, so this particular solution was developed really a very fast, so we worked together from SAP, IT it boss, SAP, uh, public sector consulting in Germany. It was the colleagues from standard development and they all really work closely together in a very agile environment with the hospitals, with the uh, local departments. And first and foremost it was to solve, not create another standard product but solve the problem. And after the crisis we need to figure out what is really in demand. Part of the demand of bed management is of course also available in the SAP standard solutions, but not every hospital is using them obviously. And then we need to see is there a demand for further extensions to that? Is there a demand for further regional consolidation? We have, for example, the intensive care unit, a bed reporting in Germany now running up in life. This is called TV, which gives you an overview of how many intensive care beds are available across the country. But these things need to figure out how to move from the current crisis situation then in a more sustainable post-crisis mode.  
 
Josie: (09:48) 
Hmm. And it sounds like you’re working hard on using technology, using the power of what SAP can do to find solutions that help the healthcare industry right now. What else are you, you know, what are you talking to your customers about? Are you also talking about kind of their strategy for how they should cope and, and reimagine or get out of this crisis more longterm? What else is going on?  
 
Michael: (10:14) 
What is really important to us is not overwhelm the customers with solutions or ideas that they don’t need. So first and foremost, it’s what the customers really require. So we are in very active listening mode and like in one specific state, um, there was the demand really first, um, really in, for the effect of flattening the curve, there was the need to understand what is the concentration of the citizens, what is the current state of COVID infections and where to move the people to do they feel a bit sick? Are they feeling that they have contact with somebody who got infected? Are they already experiencing fever and need a test or do they need to go to the hospital for that? For example, we created a solution that’s called the citizen engagement platform that consists of Qualtrics surveys which help then the local government and also the healthcare authorities for triaging the citizens and basically point them in the best direction.  
 
Michael: (11:10) 
And then of course you can also have nice uh, and analytics behind it so that you see where in which areas in which particular suburbs, the customers fear that for example, they are, they got infected where there is more demanded. Maybe you need to get another uh, fever clinic here. And this is a case out of Asia for example. And, um, where they need to move the people to or maybe also follow on surveys to better understand are they already feeling better? Do they need specific here in the account location. In that specific country, there’s also an solution combined which tracks them, the people that they really observe the two weeks of Argentine that they don’t leave their houses and their homes and um, this is a bit enforced by that specific app so that they need once per day to really give feedback that they still, uh, within their home and do not move out and roam around.  
 
Michael: (12:07) 
That is another example where basically you can combine the power of the Qualtrics survey with the power of the SAP analytics cloud in the back-end to give a holistic overview. But overall it’s very dependent on local culture, on the local legislation and also on the strategic direction that the state government is then, um, observing. And this is why there is no really unique solution. One size fits all. Like you also saw in the latest discussion, for example, in Europe about decentralized or centralized, uh, tracing solutions, which is something that needs to be decided basically in accordance to the local laws and traditions.  
 
Josie: (12:46) 
Hmm. So let’s talk actually a little bit more about the strategic direction and let’s look into the future. What do you see happening once, you know, we maybe even get a vaccine or we start to get out of this current global pandemic because obviously right now the healthcare industry is working over time massively. And what I hear from you is that they’re using technology with the partnership of the SAP and I’m sure many other companies. What do you foresee happening once we start kind of getting out of this current global pandemic?  
 
Michael: (13:20) 
Yeah. For the healthcare industry, we see a very solid rebound, particularly when it comes to collaboration. We see telemedicine on the rise. We also see that there are cloud solutions much more adopted. It’s now the time to really try this out through the test, what helps during the crisis and then take your learnings into the digital transformation for the healthcare industry post-crisis. I think there’s great opportunity, particularly cloud solutions, offer this really nice a side effect of easily scalability that you can easily adopt it to your needs. You can easily implement it and change it. So we made good expenses and we also got great feedback. And this is basically accelerating the move towards the cloud. Also in the healthcare industries. Of course it’s important that you strictly obey the law, data privacy and security regulations. And that is also something where SAP is at the forefront. That’s very important to us. They’d be completely, uh, um, uh, abiding by the local laws and legislations.  
 
Josie: (14:20) 
Hmm. So we will be there as a partner continuing to help the healthcare industry, not just now, but also in the future. And if you could give some, I guess, advise and perspective or if you, if you were talking to healthcare companies right now, what would you tell them in order for, like what would you tell them that they should be doing right now to better, um, be ready for, let’s say if there’s a second wave of this pandemic.  
 
Michael: (14:49) 
I think it’s important to invest in digital infrastructure. I think it’s important to enable the people to connect to each other, to have the right information digitally available as widespread as legally possible in order to move people also to other hospitals do not have only paper documentation, but having an electronic medical record that you are able to follow the patient treatment don’t have to start by scratch. And really I think there’s lots of room for digital transformation still in the healthcare industries and I hope this is something that we would like to support our customers with going forward post-crisis.  
 
Josie: (15:23) 
Hmm. Michael, thank you so much for coming on the show and telling us a bit more about what’s going on in the healthcare industry. It’s really, really critical industry right now and like you said in the beginning, I mean we should be so thankful for what the healthcare workers are doing right now, being out on the front lines and putting themselves at risk for the rest of us. So thank you to all the healthcare workers as well. And thank you Michael for coming on the show.  
 
Michael: (15:49) 
Yeah, a big thank you to all our customers for doing this great work. We are happy to support them. We are very excited in helping them and yeah, thanks for having Josephine, it was a pleasure. 

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