SAP | Design and Co-Innovation Center
Patient Data Explorer
National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT)
Patient Data Explorer
One of the toughest of all design challenges is the problem of designing something that really works well for expert users. We were especially impressed with the way this team made a system that helped medical professionals analyze clinical data to help dramatically improve cancer diagnostics and create personalized treatments. They did this in ways that are functionally reliable; that integrate many data sources; and permit the ability to accumulate and effectively use metadata over time.
Patient Data Explorer
The Patient Data Explorer is a new tool designed to enable medical staff to securely analyze clinical data to help dramatically improve cancer diagnostics, identify personalized treatment options and facilitate matching patients with the best clinical trials. Developed in partnership with the German National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) it gives instant access to clinical information from multiple sources for comprehensive cancer care and allows visualizing and analyzing complex data sets in real-time. With the Patient Data Explorer doctors and researchers save time and obtain meaningful data easily to improve the accuracy of cancer diagnoses and, ultimately, patient outcomes.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Comprehensive Cancer Centers, like the NCT, combine proven treatment approaches, cutting-edge research and preventive measures in order to give cancer patients the best possible support in overcoming the disease. Much like running an innovative business, the volume and variety of information that needs to be processed in providing comprehensive cancer care is immense.
- While business users can choose from a wide variety of powerful Business Intelligence software products, there is literally no analytics software tailored specifically to the needs of physicians in general and oncologists in particular available today. This opportunity was the starting point for the partnership with the NCT.
- There is an immense volume and variety of information processed in providing care to those who have not responded to standard therapies, such as the analysis of multiple cohort studies, long-term studies following groups of people who have and do not have a given condition. Before the Patient Data Explorer, these tasks involved manually reviewing, parsing and consolidating the relevant information, typically in spreadsheets. These manual processes cause significant delay for patients waiting for care targeted at individual cancers: saving time and obtaining meaningful data easily, could save lives.
- Furthermore, the huge variety of patient data comes from all kind of different sources (e.g. clinical information systems, tumor registries, biobank systems), but doctors and researchers need to combine the research results with every detail about the patient to make a decision.
'Humanize’ enterprise software - Our team’s goal is to provide end to end design innovation services and to build superior enterprise solutions based on SAP technologies. However, the time of ‘technology driven‘ software and ‘standard’ solutions as a best practice is over. We need to build enterprise experiences with fit-for-purpose design that adapts to our customers’ and their end-users' needs in the best way possible (B2B2C). How can we transform the field of health care with our extensive global enterprise expertise? How can we help to build new service solutions for our customer that is specific to the end user needs and their roles (e.g. doctors, researchers, study nurses)?
Make things that people use - Good user experience is not simply a wish anymore; it is part of a user’s expectations. When creating a new product our primary goal is to build something usable and useful to the end-users (and not our customer per se). A standard framework can become a solution’s legacy, while customized solutions can be time-consuming and high-maintenance. Therefore we aim to build superior software solutions that fit-for-purpose and are convenient and efficient to use. How can we build a new and usable product that makes peoples workdays at the cancer center more convenient? How can medical staff easily be guided to the most critical information while eliminating manual processes?
Co-innovation with our customer - Central for our collaboration with the NCT and for building a new analytics solution was a co-creation process because health and i.e. oncology was an unfamiliar topic for our team. Furthermore this approach not only allowed us to engage and learn from the end-users and experts of the cancer center but also to create higher customer engagement and ownership for the product.
Designing for the end-user - By conducting initial user research at the NCT we were able to develop an understanding for current work processes and organizational structures, to identify central roles and to collect essential documents and artifacts. For example, doctors focus on the therapy and are looking for the best possible treatment for the patient, scientists focus on innovation to validate research hypothesis for new trials and study nurses organizes trials identify patients as potential participants.
Based on our research results, we created different concepts and build first prototypes together with the NCT. While the SAP Design- and Co-Innovation Center iterated and defined the (detailed) designs more closely to the end, the SAP Innovation Center developed and implemented the core functions in parallel. From the very beginning we conducted regular user feedback sessions to observe how medical staff would interact with the tool and to ensure the designs made sense from a user perspective.
By working closely with the people from the NCT, incorporating feedback and ideas, and iterating in short cycles, the multidisciplinary team developed a well-rounded solution. The Patient Data Explorer was one of two SAP projects recognized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as “inspiring collaborations” – the other being a project with the Stanford School of Medicine. SAP HANA technology for real-time business solution - The technology SAP HANA became the foundation of the Patient Data Explorer: Only its power and in-memory capabilities allowed us to integrate the different data sources into one interface, to manage and process the huge amount of data and to run the advanced data analytics to provide the results in real time.
Improve patient care - Real-time data and analytics save time and drive more personalized care and better outcomes throughout the healthcare system. Through the Patient Data Explorer accelerated personalized treatment for cancer becomes possible ."We are now able to extract and analyze data from various sources and present it to physicians and researchers in a way that enables surprising new insights,” said Professor Dr. Christof von Kalle, director, translational oncology, NCT.
One source of truth - Almost every instance of cancer is unique. Based on a generic healthcare data model and semantic capabilities Patient Data Explorer provides doctors a single interface to retrieve patient data from multiple sources to get a comprehensive picture, helping them to reduce the risk of misdiagnosis and focus on optimal treatments instead. For individual patients, this means faster research and better targeted treatment .
Usable and useful enterprise solution - Accessing and analyzing patient data for cancer research was a complex and time-consuming process for the NCT. The Patient Data Explorer streamlines workflows and replaces manual process to increase efficiency among various medical teams at the NCT, where it is now in use (http://www.sap-tv.com/video/#/29423/). Its user interface is designed for different roles and levels. Experts can, for example, quickly and easily filter patient data via a context-based intelligent search bar for fast and specific requests.
Less familiar users can use a more explorative approach and search clinical data via a menu-based access to define patient attributes.
Supporting the NCT with providing all relevant aspects for a successful fight against cancer by building the best possible solution for their medical staff, the Patient Data Explorer, was a challenging and giving experience. Although we have extensive global enterprise expertise, it was a new journey to design an analytics solutions specifically for the area of health care i.e. oncology. Only through intensive research and close collaboration with the doctors, researchers and study nurses we were able to build such a well-rounded tool for experts to drive better cancer research.
Through short iterative cycles and end-user involvement we were able to detail out the various parts of the software. Now and then, we were surprised by the research insights and had to change the user interface or even the scope accordingly. For example, we thought that the all terminology associated to cancer research would be well understood by all experts at the NCT. However, through user tests we learned that this was not the case and that we would have to provide more explanatory solutions.