SAP and consumer healthcare

SAP and healthcare? Who would have thought yet here is an example of how the company is using many technologies to solve a relatively simple yet time consuming problem.

Does anyone associate SAP with consumer? Or healthcare? I didn't think so but that's one direction the company is going. It could open up almost unlimited opportunity. Healthcare spending and the rising cost to the ordinary person is a global issue. In the UK for example, it is often said that the demand for healthcare is infinite yet resources are inevitably finite.

If society is to create sustainable approaches to this topic then finding new solutions to everyday health issues must become a priority for all nations. The waste in time alone for people and their carers is just one dimension of this vast problem.

During SAP TechEd, Dennis Browne, who leads SAP's Imagineering team showed us a blood pressure monitoring application that uses a combination of SAP and mobile technology to eliminate the time taken to read, process and communicate heart rate information. The 4 minute 18 second video (above) demonstration was conducted in real time using a Bluetooth blood pressure measurement device, specialist mobile device, SAP technology and iGoogle presentation. While the mobile connection was slow, the demonstration gave a glimpse of what might be possible.

Dennis Browne said that this is in early stage development but that customers are working with the company on projects designed to explore the potential for preventative care, a key building block for cost reduction.

More broadly, this is not a new topic. In the last decade there have been many experiments to see how technology can benefit the healthcare system. One experiment I saw three years ago involved RFID tagging of medical instruments as part of a surgical procedure's 'bill of materials.' Ensuring that the right equipment is available to the surgical team helps reduce the potential for error in life saving situations.

SAP takes the view that as a global company with many software application strings to its bow, it is well placed to bring these types of solution into the mainstream. Quite how far that goes remains to be seen. However, it is good to see an example where SAP is co-innovating with specialist providers rather than adopting its better known 'not invented here' posture.

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