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Mission: Digital Hospital

Feature Article | March 1, 2017 by Uta Spinger

Medical product manufacturer B. Braun’s aim is to establish a constructive dialogue between customers and partners to simplify the work for hospitals and doctors, and develop new business models in healthcare. This is being made possible by iOS apps, which the company is currently building on the SAP Cloud Platform.

Cost pressure, overworked employees, obsolete systems – healthcare is facing plenty of hurdles. Hospitals could benefit enormously from digitalizing their processes and employee integration.

“When it comes to digitalization, hospitals are lagging behind,” says Christian Frank, Head of Service Innovation at Aesculap, a subsidiary of B. Braun Melsungen AG. “For us, it’s about overcoming integration gaps, and establishing a digital meeting place where users and manufacturers can meet and exchange ideas.”

Digital Marketplace for Customers and Producers

Aesculap and B. Braun IT Service GmbH are aiming to set up a digital marketplace onSAP Cloud Platform, where they will offer additional services. With a view to simplifying processes in clinics, B. Braun also wants to offer even better mobile apps to increase productivity and efficiency. App users such as doctors, clinics, medical suppliers, as well as employees in the field, will be able to scan items using a barcode, call up product information, and initiate replacement and repair orders.

Developing Tailored, Native Apps with SAP Cloud Platform and SDK for iOS

“To build our platform, we opted for the SAP Cloud Platform,” explained Martin Runkel, Managing Director of B. Braun IT Service GmbH (BIS). By developing tailored apps, the innovative BIS IT team will be able to enjoy the benefits of the native Apple operating system iOS, the SAP Cloud Platform, as well as the SAP Fiori for iOS user interface.

“The SAP Cloud Platform and the Software Development Kit for iOS provide us with an infrastructure and basic functions that we don’t need to reprogram,” explains Daniel Kersten, project manager at B. Braun IT Service GmbH. “Predefined components for database integration, authentication, and offline functionality accelerate the development of apps, and ensure security and transparency.”

This will reduce development time, and thereby cut project costs, believes Kersten. Programming errors can also be identified in advance, and eliminated.

Piloting the First Barcode App for Asset Management

The asset management app has already been realized, and will soon begin a pilot phase in a French hospital. Following the successful implantation of a prosthesis, the aim is for the respective implant to be scanned using a barcode, and added to the perioperative patient management platform. This also electronically triggers the replenishment order process.

The ability to scan the products facilitates clinic work enormously. In the past it was often difficult to access the relevant documentation, such as articles, images, disassembly diagrams, and instruction manuals.

Addressing Customers in New Markets through the App Store

To win new customer groups for their services, B. Braun also wants to offer the apps in the Apple Store. “Through digitalization, we hope to be able to realize new business models,” explains Frank. “There are hospitals all over the world, but not every location has access to the existing B. Braun sales structures. We have been able to win new customers in far-off markets who first discovered us through apps in the Store.”

In the future, customers will be able to download a free basic function and search for goods, and retrieve product information. Customers who require additional services, such as creating repair orders and reordering products, have to be given access to the premium version as a clinic user.

Digital Twin: Transferring Services such as Repairs into E-Business

Frank explains their objectives as follows: “We want to transport the physical offline world of sterile products into the digital world, and overcome the integration gap to become a sales platform.” “Sterile products without mandatory serial numbers often vanish. As soon as they leave the factory, they’re practically incognito,” explains Frank. “That’s why we want to create digital touch points so that we know whenever an instrument needs repairing, or has to be reordered. The digitial twin concept is a forward-thinking concept for us. Many services should be available in the digital world in the future, and day-to-day business should gradually transition into e-business.”

Screenshot Tray Organization Manager

The Tray Organization Manager (TOM) helps Braun to locate sterile products for operations in hospitals. (Click to enlarge.)

New Business Model: Digitalizing Surgical Scissors

Matthias Warken, Business Manager Sales & Service Innovation at Aesculap AG, describes the Tray Organization Manager (TOM) as a new business model, which was developed by BIS and SAP in conjunction with the Asset Management app: “As manufacturers, we are not always able to locate our sterile products for operations, such as scissors and sieves, when they’re en route to the customer. Clinics can use an app to digitalize the processes for their sterile product cycle, which used to be documented on paper. This way, clinics can streamline processes and ensure more transparency.”

Another possibility is creating benchmark analyses for surgical products, broken down by instrument, operation, patient, and maintenance costs.

The app also provides clinics with cleaning instructions, as well as disassembly diagrams. Referring to texts and pictures, individuals can see how medical equipment such as an endoscope must be cleaned and reassembled.

“One of the TOM application’s strongest features is its combining a mobile iOS application and the backend of the SAP Cloud Platform,” says Martin Runkel. “This combination generates other interesting scenarios, for instance in the context of Big Data, which can help modernize the healthcare system.”

Photos via B.Braun AG

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