COVID-19 poses enormous challenges for all healthcare providers globally. The metropolitan area of Rhein-Neckar in Germany, where SAP’s global headquarters is located, adjusted quickly to the current circumstances and established the COVID-19 coordination center for the hospitals and clinics in the city of Heidelberg and its surrounding region.

This COVID-19 coordination center allows doctors to control and manage all information to more effectively coordinate patient care and transport during the pandemic. Furthermore, the regular district offices must continuously report to the state and federal authorities how many COVID-19 hospital beds are available in the region, with and without ventilation options. The coordination center manages this transfer of accurate information in real time using the newly developed bed capacity management solution from SAP.

The project stands out through amazing and fast collaboration, with the Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) leading the effort. The Integrated Control Center Rhein-Neckar/Heidelberg (ILS) also works closely with the new COVID-19 coordination center, acting as partner and interface to emergency and ambulance services. Together with the Center for Information and Medical Technology (ZIM) at UKHD, along with SAP,  the COVID-19 platform for bed management was setup in just about a week.

The COVID-19 coordination center serves as central contact point for all needs-based management of COVID-19 in-patients. Using the software, doctors have a real-time overview of available capacities in the entire Rhein-Neckar area and the city of Heidelberg so that patients can be easily assigned according to availability and receive the best care in the fastest possible way. To further support this goal, Heidelberg University Hospital has automated the occupancy plan for all related hospital beds in the region with the help of this solution that is specifically tailored to the very needs of all parties involved. UKHD and 17 affiliated hospitals, as well as the fire brigade control center and the health authority, can use this solution free of charge for six months.

SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Fiori, and SAP Analytics Cloud serve as the technological backbone, supporting the required cloud-based, scalable, and expandable solution, including a highly secure authorization and role concept. The solution itself is easily accessible via a web browser and a wide variety of devices — desktop computers, laptops, or smartphones — regardless of location.

“It is important to centrally coordinate the distribution of patients and bed occupancy in Heidelberg and the region. In this way, existing structures, which reach their limits in the event of a crisis, can be efficiently relieved,” says Professor Dr. Ingo Autenrieth, chief medical officer and chairman of the Board of Heidelberg University Hospital. “The new solution helps ensure that the necessary data is always available and up-to-date.”

“We are very pleased with SAP’s prompt support and help, and the successful project implementation in such a short time,” adds Prof. Dr. Hugo Katus, clinical director of the Department of Cardiology, Angiology, and Pneumology, and managing director of the Medical University Hospital Heidelberg, who initiated the project together with Prof. Dr. Erik Popp, head of Emergency Medicine at Heidelberg University Hospital, and PD Dr. Michael Preusch, Department of Cardiology, Angiology, and Pneumology. The doctors head the central COVID-19 coordination center located at Heidelberg University Hospital.

The platform can be expanded further in the future. For example, managing COVID-19 patients at a hospital or clinic level, as well as the integration of specific materials management are possible. The hospital could then use the new platform to manage all materials required for COVID-19 intensive care and estimate future demand. Thus, the consumption and the necessary stockpiling could be predicted in relation to the occupancy with COVID-19 patients.

In my role as head of the Healthcare industry business unit at SAP globally, it delights my team and me to work closely with our customers, helping them during this time of need. Living in the Rhein-Neckar region, it also gives me great pride to support my community and to be a part of a municipal project that will make a difference to my family, friends, and neighbors.

Michael Byczkowski is head of Healthcare at SAP.