Technology as a Means to Sustain Medical Innovation

As we’ve seen with recent outbreaks like the Zika Virus in Brazil, medical conditions and diseases are in constant flux. Concurrently, the medical field has made tremendous advances over the past century. Looking at these developments, it’s important for members of the healthcare community to understand how technology can improve their ability to provide health services and deliver important medicines to those who need it most. While the amount of technology currently supporting the public and private sector can be daunting, this vast landscape of systems can be more systematically organized to help provide primary care services, expedite medical research and retain a more comprehensive view of patient history. This article will explore how Enterprise Architecture and Application Portfolio Management can aid in these efforts and ultimately create a stronger technology infrastructure for health systems.

Before attempting to solve these issues, one must acknowledge that the potential of healthcare technology is still very much in the process of being realized. As we have seen from some of the health industry’s leading institutions, organizations are looking to increase collaboration between the staff members of their respective organizations. For example, many pharmaceutical companies are looking to technology integration to increase efficiency and transparency in the supply chain for important drugs and medicine. The value in this is easily understood and it is something that technology can continue to encourage. Reducing the time to market for innovative medicine can only help medical practitioners and hopefully lower operating costs for those organizations working to discover valuable new medicines and vaccines every day.

Building on these points, Application Portfolio Management can serve as a highly useful methodology for healthcare organizations. With the mass of technology systems currently operating in and supporting healthcare environments, it’s difficult to monitor their importance to organizational operations. Using Application Portfolio Management, IT staff can target which applications are the most relevant to the health system’s operations and enhance or decommission antiquated systems when necessary. Healthcare priorities are constantly changing and this governance capability will enable IT executives to see when they can reduce costs and save valuable funds to be used on other initiatives.

Similarly, creating a more coherent technology ecosystem throughout health systems may extract certain benefits. For instance, better coordination between healthcare technology may reduce the time in which patient care is provided. Moreover, this coordination may assist health systems in maintaining a more comprehensive record of patient history between disparate systems and specialists. Organizations can encourage these improvements through a more clearly defined, transparent Enterprise Architecture which acts as a flexible framework for their future IT infrastructure.

Additionally, we should make note of the value in implementing and maintaining a central data repository for those in the health industry. Looking at this, an institution can place their pertinent IT processes in a centralized location where staff members from multiple departments can access it. Similar to the improvements mentioned previously, a repository can also help overall efficiency within a health network.

So how do we accomplish all of this? It won’t be a simple task. Like the Internet of Things, there is still a significant learning curve ahead. The good news is that some of the world’s leading medical institutions are already doing these things. While we can’t know exactly what the future will hold for medicine or science, we can try to spur new medical innovation through improved technology.

Laying the Foundation for Digital Business Transformation

The market is moving quickly, and we are constantly being tasked with improving on performance to drive better results and justify our positions.  To do this we need to bring in digital technologies to facilitate every aspect of the business, and gather data for analysing performance and finding areas to improve.  This goes for everything in your business eco-system: supply chain, customer journeys, back-office support functions, processes, IT estate, and all cross-functional activities.  Your competitors are working on this, to varying degrees of success, and you also need to.

With so many projects to work on, and potential investments to make, how do we make sure our digital transformation is successful?  And provides the quick results that shareholders and stakeholders demand?

Here’s three steps you can do to lay the foundations for successful digital transformation.

Understand your current landscape and digital technologies

Before bringing in new digital tech, you need to know what you have already, where the gaps are, and what options are available.  Each functions’ digital requirements will be evolving constantly, and some can be met with the existing set up.  Accurately document your enterprise architecture starting with the IT and process landscape and ensure there is alignment with organisational goals.  This will provide visibility on the areas for improvement and the impact of bringing in new digital technologies, and allow you to plan for training programs and transformation activities.

Identify key areas for digital transformation

Digital solutions should support the exchange of information between all people and “things” in the business eco-system.  All productive processes should therefore be digitally supported, be an organisational part of the enterprise regardless of geographic location, and the ability to exchange information in execution of a process should be available at all times and in all places.  Customer journey maps, capability models, and gap analyses developed as part of your enterprise architecture will enable you to identify key areas for digital transformation.

For example, the new “Digital Hospital” in Denmark has used its enterprise architecture to understand how all people and “things” should link up.  The digital hospital has visualised the elements required to support core services such as treatment of patients, and non-clinical logistics,and mapped the knowledge that needs to be transferred at each step.  The correct digital technologies to support the knowledge transfer can then be identified and introduced.  In this case, it includes the introduction of robots in storage areas to ensure that delivery of correct materials is never more than 20 metres from physicians, and mobile registration for log books.

Create a Collaboration Platform

Digital transformation requires buy-in and cooperation from people spread across all areas of the business.  The main reason for failure in transformation projects is lack of commitment from stakeholders. Everyone needs to understand the impact of digital transformation, and how to ensure it aligns with overall goal of the organisation, reasons for change, and what they need to do to contribute.  A simple web-platform that provides this information in an easy to consume format, with alerts for outstanding tasks can ensure that people stay on top of transformation tasks and remain committed to the end result: a modern digitally enabled enterprise.

These steps will allow you to optimise the use of current resources, mitigate risks in digitalisation, and ensure cross-functional teams collaborate on your digital transformation.

Architecting the Digital Hospital

More than 10 billion Euros will be spent on 16 new hospital construction projects in Denmark. One of the larger projects, dubbed a “super-hospital,” is in Odense, where the budget is 1.3 billion Euros. The New Odense University Hospital (Nyt OUH) will be approximately 250.000 m2 and is scheduled to be ready in 2022. It will become the largest hospital in Denmark that is built from scratch.

Budget
1.3 €billion

Floor area
250.000 m2

New OUH is a green-field mega-project which will replace the existing university hospital (OUH). So on one hand, it is a rare opportunity to architect a digital enterprise “ground-up”, regardless of the existing built-environment, but on the other hand, it is also a significant transition challenge for the existing enterprise.

The overall vision for New OUH is:

A university hospital is a highly technological and knowledge intensive enterprise that depends on knowledge being shared and used optimally in the primary production – treatment of patients and research. Knowledge in the hospital must flow freely inside the networks and between the relevant operators and must be available at any time and in such a fashion that it can be utilized immediately.

New OUHs governing bodies have established an overall vision for the digital hospital:

The Digital Hospital is a composite term consisting of the word Hospital. This represents the core service – diagnosing and treatment of patients and thus the circuit of knowledge while the Digital is a supporting and developmental term to the core service. The Digital element in New OUH must be omnipresent and must ensure that New OUH can realize its vision and make full and optimal use of the knowledge circuit. In other words, the Digital hospital is a precondition for the knowledge circuit in New OUH.

Jonas Hedegaard Knudsen, CIO

Digital solutions at New OUH will be for all, to all, between all, everywhere – always.

For all

Digital solutions must support all users of the hospital and its functions. Concurrently, the digital solutions will help convert data into information to the benefit of the sharing of knowledge, treatment, care and research. The digital solutions must support exchange of information/communication as well between the different users, and deliver to such an extent that they support proper communication between the parties and in a fashion making it relevant for the information seeker. When the term “all” is used it refers to patients, next of kin, hospital employees, GPs, municipality and scientific researchers at the university.

To all

Digital solutions for all are regarded as any productive process at New OUH is digitally supported. Data, information and knowledge flow freely and automatically to all people as well as systems, thus supporting the hospital processes in the best possible way and at any time providing the employees with the necessary knowledge needed to perform their tasks. “To all” constitutes a movement from one operator to (“all”) another operator. This movement rep-resents knowledge shared transparently and automatically. Data, information and knowledge thus flow to and between all productive operators and processes at the hospital.

Between all

Digital solutions between all tie individuals, work processes and solutions together in a holistically orientated network2. In other words, we are talking about coherent sharing of information and knowledge between all operators in a network. “Between all” is thus regarding the coherence and integration of concepts. The digital elements is seen as coherence and integration on three levels: between individuals, between equipment, and between equipment and individuals. The digital hospital must contribute to information and knowledge being made available in such a way that it can be integrated and utilized between all operators and network in and around the hospital’s technical and productive processes.

Everywhere

Digital solutions “over all” mean that the solutions must be available and integrated for all, in and around the hospital, patients as well as external partners. This availability “everywhere” facilitates communication, sharing and creation of knowledge. Therefore “Everywhere” must not be viewed as a (narrow hospital based) concept but as including all partners (patients, scientific researchers, municipalities etc.) “Everywhere” covers, in other words, the geographical and organizational areas that participate in or around a specific productive process offered by the hospital to a patient or a group of patients. “Everywhere” thus facilitates both and organizational perspective, a process related perspective, and a geographical perspective. This means that digital solutions “everywhere” must be an organizational part of the entire hospi-tal, support all productive processes in such a way that these can be utilized in the best possible way regardless of geographical location.

Always

Digital solutions must always be present and support the user at any given time to be able to procure the requested information – regardless of place and time. This means that the digital solutions support availability of information for the user at the time the information is requested. This means that during an operation the surgeon can pull vital information that the researcher has unlimited access to quality data in his field. That data is available regardless if the user is present at the hospital, the university or outside.

New OUH has chosen QualiWare’s digital business design platform for the ongoing architecture and design work on the digital enterprise. QualiWare is already used at the existing OUH for asset management in several clinical areas.

The New OUH enterprise architecture team will over the next 6 years need to flesh out actionable digital business design, and realize the digital hospital vision. QualiWare Center of Excellence will support the EA team in these efforts.

In future blogs, we will offer more updates and elaborations on the digital hospital.