“AI and robotics will be game changers in medicine and healthcare”

Digitalization in healthcare is seen as a major challenge. Heterogeneous IT infrastructures with a variety of legacy systems and proprietary solutions dominate in clinics, practices and healthcare institutions. CTO Stefanie Kemp explains how she solves these problems for Sana Kliniken.

connect professional: What does digitalization look like within your company?

Steffi Kemp: We have a large IT landscape. However, this is anything but homogeneous, modern, open to interfaces and patient- or employee-oriented. Nevertheless, we have to keep these systems running. At the same time, we are trying to make big steps forward. The keywords are: putting people first, standardization, platformization, cloud solutions. So we have a double challenge: on the one hand, we have to continue driving safely straight ahead at 120 km/h, but at the same time we have to replace the engine.

connect professional: What were the biggest obstacles in implementing your digitalization strategy?

Kemp: The older systems are a big obstacle. They do not allow for modernity in our sense. We did not find a core hospital system on the market that met our requirements, nor a so-called hospital information system. That is why we are now building a data workflow engine together with partners that is tailored to our needs. In addition to the technology, there are other factors that slow us down: excessive regulation with laws, rules and guidelines. At the same time, important preconditions are missing: where is the hospital reform heading? What next for outpatient care? And last but not least, we also have a shortage of skilled workers.

Steffi Kemp, Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) and Member of the Board of Sana Kliniken AG
Steffi Kemp, Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) and Member of the Board of Sana Kliniken AG

connect professional: What innovative technologies, such as AI, are you already using in your company or are you planning to do so in the near future?

Kemp: There is a good MedTech scene in Germany, including exciting startups. The challenge is to develop economically, medically or logistically sustainable cases from the technology. In Lübeck, for example, we use an AI-based application that can support our neurologists very well in diagnostics as part of imaging procedures. Unfortunately, we cannot yet scale such applications due to our heterogeneous IT structure. We are working on that. Another example: There are excellent surgical robots. However, given the current cost structures, it is not worth using them. We are still doing it to gain experience and be attractive. General: AI and robotics will become game changers in medicine and healthcare. However, we are still laying the foundation for their sensible use.

connect professional: How do you rate the level of digitalization in your industry?

Kemp: The healthcare sector is about twenty years behind the industry standard. And if we compare the German healthcare system with the developed industrial countries, Germany is at the end of the scale. At the same time, we are facing enormous challenges because we simply do not have enough staff in the future. There are already gaps in medical care in Germany today. What should we do? There are three major adjustment screws: reducing the bureaucratic burden, better cooperation between all players in healthcare, and efficiency gains through digitalization and robotics.

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