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A new survey reveals that healthcare providers are almost evenly split when it comes to digital transformation pilots. Here’s a look at five pilots that could sway the pendulum toward more widespread adoption.

In a small healthcare pilot in Singapore, 10 families living with aging family members agreed to share patient information with healthcare providers through a mobile app. The pilot’s goal was simple: Could resources made available through mobile and cloud technology improve patient engagement and care? Would tracking daily progress and having easy access to medical records improve the communications between caregivers and family members?

This patient-centric pilot is among hundreds of pilots that healthcare organizations are using as proving grounds for advancing their digital transformation.  According to a recent study by SAP Center for Business Insight, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, healthcare organizations have high hopes that digital transformation will bring about positive changes, but first they must maximize their return on IT investments. Proving the value of those investments often starts with a rolling out a successful pilot.

Among respondents of global C-level healthcare executives, more than half (54%) have digital transformation pilots underway. Almost a quarter (23%) are planning for it, and approximately a third (32%) have completed digitalization plans in some areas.  Not unexpectedly, these statistics align closely to trends SAP is seeing among its healthcare customers. When we dig a bit deeper into the stats, the pilots and tech investments consistently fall into categories that align with five healthcare priorities:

  • Make better the patient experience

  • Improve patient outcomes

  • Empower the workforce

  • Operate smart and efficiently

  • Apply data-driven clinical innovations

Among SAP customers, several pilots are compelling examples of the benefits and value that result from digital transformation. Even in this early stage, early adopters are realizing significant gains in better patient and business outcomes.

Cancer Patients Receive More Personalized Care  

When addressing patient experience, we are seeing consumer expectations from other industries such as retail be presumed in healthcare. The patient, as the consumer, is researching health information, diagnosing their own conditions, and searching out their own treatment plans. In response, healthcare organizations are turning to precision medicine to address each patient’s individual needs.


The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which has more than 40,000 members, is a prime example of how organizations are improving patient experience. Its health information platform, CancerLinQ, assembles vast amounts of usable, searchable, real-world cancer information into a shared platform to help oncologists improve and personalize care for cancer patients. The data collected by CancerLinQ, built on SAP HANA, is used to provide reports, services, and other tools designed to support providers’ quality assessment and improvement, care coordination, case management, and other health care operations activities.

More than 100 oncology practices have signed up to participate in CancerLinQ, and 1 million+ records are now stored in the system. Large and small practices from throughout the United States will soon be able to analyze datasets that map directly to their patients, ultimately improving the quality of cancer care across the country.

Informed Decisions at Point of Care Improve Outcomes

Value-based care is gaining a strong following as healthcare consumers want to connect patient outcomes to healthcare costs. They expect insights from their healthcare providers about their specific health issues and a comparison of their signs,  symptoms and experiences to other patients facing similar circumstances. Looking forward, hospitals may be rated on outcomes, and they will need to demonstrate how they optimized the outcome for each individual patient. That process starts with bringing patient and medical data together and analyzing it for insights.

Leading the way in this type of innovative oncology treatment is one of the world’s premier cancer-research institutes and treatment centers, Gustave Roussy in France.  The institute cares for 1,000 new cancer patients per month and has developed an integrated approach to research, patient care, and teaching, while keeping the focus on the individual patient.

The institution began a pilot with SAP Medical Research Insights technology to better analyze like patients. The goal was to break down silos of stored data and explore a longitudinal view of patient records, based on various clinical and genomic data sources. They wanted to explore individual characteristics, genome data, treatment regimens, and outcomes.

The new platform offers a comprehensive overview of each individual patient’s medical history in a graphical timeline, making it easy to access information on any level of detail. With easier access and better data query tools, practitioners and oncologists can use data analytics to make informed decisions at the point of care.

Empowered Workforces in Kenya Aims to Contain Rising Cervical Cancer Rates


Complexity is the enemy of workforce empowerment. It can drive up costs and slow down progress. New digital tools enable the workforce to reevaluate how they work and get the most out of their professional training, freeing them from paperwork to focus on patient care. Many digital transformation pilots are focused on restructuring and empowering workforces to allow them to perform at their best.

A pilot in Kenya highlights the impact technology has on the workforce and patients. The University Clinic Heidelberg worked with SAP to create a better process for collecting and analyzing the data of Kenyan women being tested for cancer. In Kenya, cervical cancer is the leading cause for women’s deaths, even though it is easily preventable. Most Kenyan women had never been screened for the disease.

Under the Emerging Technologies in Cervical Cancer Screening project, SAP helped create a user-centric mobile app to help screeners collect patient data from 800 women. Physicians, laboratories and patients are communicating seamlessly, and in a future phase, mobile devices will be added, so patients do not have to travel for hours to health centers. Healthcare and IT joined forces to significantly accelerate and simplify the screening approach in a fragile infrastructure.

Data-driven Decisions Personalize Healthcare


Hyperconnectivity and Big Data science will transform nearly every business model in healthcare. The ability to monitor patients, collect health data, and react early to, or even predict, medical conditions will upend the healthcare value chain and the way healthcare professionals deliver care to their patients. Pilots that enable data-driven clinical innovations are leading these changes.

In Austria, the Competence Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CBmed) is using the SAP Connected Health platform to collect, integrate, and analyze patient data from routine documentation for biomarker discovery, a cornerstone for evidence-based medicine. The end goal is to enhance patient outcomes while optimizing workflows in clinical and research environments.

A new plugin to the electronic health record will provide a quick view on current and historic data of a single patient to clinicians, based on the comprehensive set of patient data. According to the user profile, an app prioritizes different selections of content. A cardiologist, for example, would see a different view than an ophthalmologist or a hospital administrator. Additional apps under development extract standardized codes from clinical narratives to help clinicians recruit patients for clinical trials, and help predict patient outcomes through clinical features and next-generation biomarkers. All promise to raise the standard of personalized medicine.

Looking Ahead: More Pilots, More Digital Progress

Digital transformation is underway within healthcare organizations, and the pilots’ results show that it’s meeting providers’ expectations. Overall adoption, though, is slow, which is confusing and frustrating to consumers. Looking back at the survey, respondents clearly see technology as essential for growth (69%), retaining competitive advantage (69%), improving customer satisfaction (69%), and profitability (65%).

This projection of what digital transformation will bring to their business is clearly disconnected with what they are doing to achieve digitalization. In comparison to other markets such as retail and banking, healthcare is moving toward digital transformation at a much slower pace.

There is good news, though. Progress is forecasted to move much faster in only two years. Survey respondents expect the value of their technology investments to almost triple as customer satisfaction jumps from 22% to 61% and innovation moves up from 23% to 59% due to digital improvements.

The pilots provide fact-based evidence that technology is enhancing the customer experience and engagement. Going back to that small pilot in Singapore, after only one year, results proved that communications were better between family members and caregivers, leading to larger scale implementations across senior centers.

The pilot mirrors the survey data showing that digitalization improves customer satisfaction and innovation. And frankly, once given a clean bill of health, isn’t customer satisfaction at the root of what we all want from our healthcare experiences? The patient care continuum has abundant room for more pilots like these as the industry makes its way toward digitalization.



If you are interested to learn about how SAP Health is helping healthcare providers on their digital transformation journey, please download the “The Future of Digital Health” white paper.

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