When the healthcare system is being put to the test as it is during the corona crisis, solid partnerships and robust solutions are crucial for efficient cooperation. The Marienhaus Group, one of the largest Christian providers of social services in Germany, changed the procedures in its 18 hospitals long before the spread of the pandemic and, in many areas, also integrated digital tools.
In the words of the chief representative Dr. Thomas Wolfram: “To put the company in a stable position for the future, we sought a strategic partner to ensure that with a manageable financial outlay we would be able to participate in important technological developments.” Marienhaus picked Siemens Healthineers because, according to Wolfram, “we quickly realized that both sides in this partnership were extremely reliable.”
Virtual solution doubles expertise
The fact is that work in German hospitals is currently undergoing fundamental change. Despite reduced reimbursement rates as part of the DRG (diagnosis-related groups) system, growing numbers of patients are requiring comprehensive medical care. At the same time, operational procedures are becoming more challenging due to the greater complexity of documentation requirements or the increasing specialization of hospitals.
This calls for a change in mindset and behavior across the board. One tool that enables the Marienhaus Group to share valuable expertise between multiple sites is the syngo Virtual Cockpit. This solution allows up to three MRI scanners to be digitally linked to the software so that they can be managed and controlled centrally by a single person. Consequently, the expertise of a trained member of staff is temporarily multiplied. Moreover, a modernized, standardized equipment infrastructure also reduces the team’s workload.
Since this solution eliminates complex interfaces and the need to deal with constantly changing user interfaces, experts can be deployed to different sites without them having to familiarize themselves with new technologies each time. Professor Jörn Balzer, MD, Head of Diagnostic and Clinical Radiology at the Katholischen Klinikum in Mainz thinks this is great and explains why: “Our staff had to spend considerable time and effort in the past adjusting to so many different device platforms. Now we have clear, uniform operating concepts that are easy to use.”
Stress-free clinical imaging
The patients also benefit from this improved efficiency as radiology technologist Mette Schwalbe from the Katholische Klinikum Mainz confirms: “For our patients, it’s important that examinations run smoothly and that the waiting times are kept short. If we can get to grips with the technology more quickly, this enables us to spend more time with our patients, which makes the whole process a lot less stressful.”
While the radiology technologists are focusing on their patients, the teamplay Usage app monitors the performance of individual devices and enables better utilization of the entire equipment fleet. At the same time, the burden of the examination itself can be reduced as all the Marienhaus hospitals use teamplay Dose, a dose management system for radiology that analyzes and displays the dose values for each examination. “We make our patients and our staff a quality promise. This includes achieving a standard that we want to guarantee at all of our sites,” Thomas Wolfram explains.
New digital solutions are intended to help achieve this aim – solutions such as syngo.via, software that uses smart algorithms to analyze diagnostic images from CT scans, MRI, and angiography. The results support the radiologists in their diagnosis. “Radiologists don’t exactly grow on trees,” Wolfram says. This is why it is so important that existing staff are relieved of some of their workload.
Shared service makes things twice as fast
Both partners will be jointly responsible for managing the installed systems. If a piece of equipment for fluoroscopy or an X-ray workstation fails because of a fault, specially trained service engineers can offer onsite support. Timo Seibert, Division Manager for Medical Technology at Marienhaus Dienstleistungen GmbH, explains: “Service engineers are moving away from their administrative roles and are now much more hands on. This means that they communicate directly with the doctors, something that has been very positively received by our staff. We have had a lot of excellent feedback.”
There is cooperation on the large, complex systems. If needed, specialists are remotely connected via tablet or smartphone. They can see exactly what the Marienhaus engineers can see and the hospital thus benefits directly from their expertise. If a system fails due to a fault, this is displayed in the online service portal LifeNet and the service coordinator can decide who is able to remedy the fault quickest.
“It was important for us to find a form of cooperation where we would be working on an equal level because the sustainability of our operations is essential for us.”
Seibert elaborates: “The service is a cut above everything else that is currently available on the market when it comes to technology partnerships.” And, in these times of crisis especially, this approach also helps meet the high demands for hygiene and safety of hospital staff.
Training independent of time and space
The Marienhaus team must always act with speed and insight – this requires high-quality, timely training. This is why PEPconnect, an online learning platform for clinical personnel, has been set up at all the Marienhaus Group’s sites. Customized training plans, onsite or remote training will replace time-consuming business trips, because it is not always realistic for health professionals to take several hours or even days off to attend workshops.
The platform provides all Marienhaus Group employees access to customized training – all online and so can be conducted anytime and anywhere, when working from home, for example. The e-learning experience can be tailored to each individual member of staff because it factors in varying levels of prior knowledge and personal learning objectives.
The synergies between the different digital components of the technology partnership meet current demands: Together they make processes faster and more efficient, foster interdisciplinary cooperation, and help professionals provide their patients with optimal medical care. At the press conference announcing the sealing of the technology partnership, none of those present could have ever imagined just how strategically significant all these aspects would prove in these unprecedented times of the corona pandemic …
About the Author
Andrea Lutz is a journalist and business trainer specialized on medical topics, technology, and healthcare IT. She lives in Nuremberg, Germany.