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Every day we can read a newspaper article about the soaring costs for healthcare and the need for changes in this area. A lot of sometimes big projects are under way in order to provide the necessary changes with a modern IT.

But sometimes even smaller projects can make the difference and support the actors in healthcare: patients, general practitioners, hospitals with its doctors and nurses and other medical service suppliers. I realized that recently during some discussions with customers about information sharing between small physicians’ practices and hospitals. Hospitals all over the world are very interested to strengthen the relationship with physician practices as they are referring their patients to them. The physicians are very interested to get the result of the treatments and the clinical documentation as quick as possible ideally in real time in order to enable a collective decision making between the physician and the doctor in the hospital about the diagnosis and future treatments. Today the reality is very often paper-based after the dismissal of the patient from the hospital.

SAP StreamWork can close this gap without the need for huge IT infrastructure investments. The small physician practices have very often limited IT equipment and a small budget for it. The software for the administration of practice very often consists just of a PC program and an Internet connection to transfer data e.g. to the health insurance. Moreover there is no dedicated IT staff existing in many cases.

Therefore a service offering from the hospital to the physician that they can access the clinical documentation via SAP StreamWork can have a huge effect on the relationship between the hospital and the physician.

As the physician can be invited by her colleague from the hospital via the StreamWork feature the long discussions in similar projects how to enable the collaboration can be cut short.

With the growing support for mobile devices by SAP StreamWork there are also other very interesting use cases existing within the hospital. Doctors from other wards or special departments (e.g. radiology) can quickly have a discussion within SAP StreamWork about lab results and other diagnosis in order to come to a collective decision about the future treatment of the patient.

As always in healthcare data security concerns has to be taken into consideration. But the Enterprise Edition of SAP StreamWork with its security features is a very good starting point for these use cases.

As one of the key challenges in healthcare is quick and instant sharing of information and a facilitation of quick collective decisions I am quite sure that other usage areas will occur in the future including more actors in healthcare like health insurances and health maintenance organization just to name two.