With the ambition of restructuring the IT organization and preparing for the upcoming digitalization of its hospitals, the Marienhaus Group has laid the foundation for digital transformation. Siemens Healthineers supported the hospital group with management consulting and advisory services.
Hans-Walter Schmittel, Managing Director of Marienhaus Dienstleistungen GmbH, and Florian Benthin, Head of Global Practice Strategy & Finance and Digital & Transformation at Siemens Healthineers, discuss about the expectations, results, and concrete implementation of this consulting services.
In spring 2020, the Marienhaus Group signed a technology partnership with Siemens Healthineers. How important is this partnership to you as CIO and head of IT?
Hans-Walter Schmittel: The partnership is about much more than just installing and maintaining new medical technology in our hospitals. Our goal is to jointly develop an architecture with which we can establish a Clinical Data Repository to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration within our hospital group and substantially boost the degree of digitalization. Furthermore, it is important to me to have the support of an experienced business partner in healthcare that we can also use as a sparring partner to discuss upcoming changes and incorporate the conclusions in new concepts.
The technology partnership revealed how professional Siemens Healthineers is, not only in medical technology, but also in process issues, strategy, and digitalization. Therefore, it was obvious to me that we should also rely on their consulting services.
Hans-Walter Schmittel, Managing Director of Marienhaus Dienstleistungen GmbH and CIO of the Marienhaus Group, Waldbreitbach, Germany
What was the reason for extending the collaboration with Siemens Healthineers and make use of its consulting services?
Schmittel: The technology partnership revealed how professional Siemens Healthineers is, not only in medical technology, but also in solving process issues, creating strategies, and in digitalization. In addition, medical technology and IT are growing ever closer together anyway. Therefore, it was obvious to me that we should rely on their external consulting services.
Mr. Benthin, what is the consulting approach of Siemens Healthineers?
Florian Benthin: First, we offer independent advisory services on the challenges of our customers and their entire organization. In terms of content, we focus on three pillars: strategy, digitalization, and clinical and operational excellence. The core element of our approach is the transition of our customers toward a digital and effective healthcare provider. In this field, we have gathered a lot of experience with numerous customers, both in Germany and abroad. Furthermore, we offer an interdisciplinary consulting team consisting of experienced strategy consultants, but also of physicians, economists, and digital experts. This enables us to address specific issues with a broad range of expertise. In addition, we focus on practical application and support the implementation of the jointly developed concepts.
Above all, we offer independent advisory services on the challenges of our customers and their entire organization. In terms of content, we focus on three pillars: strategy, digitalization, and clinical and operational excellence.
Florian Benthin, Head of Global Practice Strategy & Finance and Digital Transformation, Siemens Healthineers, Erlangen, Germany
How was this approach executed in the Marienhaus Group context?
Benthin: In addition to strategic questions, we payed particular attention to the organizational level. It was important to check and improve processes and define clear responsibilities since many issues in the Marienhaus Group and with its IT systems had to be addressed in parallel and under considerable time pressure.
Schmittel: I would like to add that the pragmatic approach was crucial for the success of the project. The consultants conducted numerous interviews with our employees, analyzed existing documents, and ultimately chose a bottom-up approach that quickly led us to the actual problem areas. This step was followed by clustering the issues and their solutions into short-, medium-, or long-term initiatives. Based on this clustering, we jointly developed a framework that listed concrete measures and a pragmatic way forward. It was important for us to achieve rapid improvements. Investments in IT have often been deferred in the last few years for economic reasons, so we had a huge backlog.
Were there any findings that could be acted on immediately?
Benthin: Yes, a key focus of the project was to identify quick wins and to implement them together as soon as possible. Let me give two examples: First, we implemented an escalation management system that redefined how the Marienhaus Group deals with major or complex incidents and requirements. Second, a knowledge management system was introduced to leverage existing IT know-how as effectively as possible and make it available within the organization.
Schmittel: Additionally, several smaller optimizations proved highly effective. I would like to highlight the daily stand-up meetings that we introduced as a result of the consulting process and which have already led to very positive results. Furthermore, the insight that our Service Level Agreements (SLAs) were inadequate was very important. We had already taken some action in this regard, but the consultants’ external perspective gave us the confidence that we needed to expand and implement new SLAs. All these aspects had a direct positive impact on the hospitals of the Marienhaus Group.
Would you recommend this kind of consulting service to colleagues in other hospitals or hospital groups?
Schmittel: Definitely. The external perspective is extremely helpful in shaping change processes. You get new food for thought and learn about best practices at other facilities. Another strong argument is the consulting team’s specific expertise in the field of healthcare, but also the diverse mix of specialists, ranging from IT experts to physicians and strategy consultants. This was crucial to the project’s success, and I would warmly recommend the IT consulting service to any organization.
The statements by Siemens Healthineers customers described herein are based on results that were achieved in the customer’s unique setting. Since there is no “typical” hospital and many variables exist (e.g., hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption) there can be no guarantee that other customers will achieve the same results.