Using data from seven different hospitals collectively to provide better care and service: that was the mission of Santeon, the largest healthcare network in the Netherlands. To this end, the organization developed a modern Health Intelligence Platform Santeon (HIPS) on the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform. Macaw guided Santeon in this grand journey toward data-driven care, for better patient outcomes.
The seven top clinical hospitals of Santeon are spread throughout the Netherlands and have one thing in common: they all strive for the best possible quality of care and the highest patient satisfaction. They do this as individual hospitals, but mainly by working together. Together, the St Antonius Hospital in Utrecht, the OLVG in Amsterdam, the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen, the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven, the Medisch Spectrum Twente in Enschede and the Martini Hospital in Groningen account for about 11 percent of hospital care in the Netherlands. With more than 36,000 employees and 3.1 billion healthcare revenue per year, Santeon is a major player in the healthcare industry.
The challenge: sharing data between seven hospitals
Just like other healthcare institutions, Santeon is facing challenges. An aging population, staff shortages, an increasing number of chronically ill people, limited budgets: there is a lot of pressure on the Dutch healthcare system. In 2020, the idea emerged at Santeon to meet the challenges in smart ways, for example by collecting data from the seven hospitals about specific disorders. But: within the Santeon hospitals, there were dissimilar data management structures. Each hospital had its own sets of data in its own format and its own type of governance. So the large amounts of available data could not be merged.
Recognizing patterns, innovating, comparing
With Santeon’s Samen Beter (Better Together) motto in mind, the plan was to find a way to connect data collectively, so that healthcare providers could make processes more effective and efficient. ‘If you bring together data on conditions and treatments from all seven hospitals, analysts and healthcare providers can recognize patterns, make comparisons, suggest innovations,’ Michel Hankel explains. He was involved in the Santeon project as Macaw’s Client Manager. ‘This provides incredibly useful, relevant insights about conditions that contribute to better patient outcomes.’
The approach: blended teams, Azure & Macaw framework
But data harmonization on such a large scale is no easy task, especially in healthcare where issues such as compliance, security and governance are of extreme importance. A multidisciplinary team of both technical and medical specialists from Santeon locked themselves in for a week, and so the foundation of the Health Intelligence Platform Santeon (HIPS) was born. ‘When Macaw came into the picture as a partner, Santeon had already done a Proof of Concept and, thanks to the preliminary research, a solid foundation was in place to start working on the data platform together,’ says Macaw project leader René Verhaag.
From data platform to in-service training
Macaw’s proposition was to set up a Smart Data Platform based on Azure, for processing and analyzing data on the eventual central platform. ‘Including interoperability standards for collaboration, change management and in-service training for Santeon staff’, Michel says. During the year of implementation, the program grew further to include an Azure Foundations Landing Zone, the Santeon Training Academy on Azure, Data Architecture and Adoption & Change Management. Eventually, Azure DevOps was added, along with Teams and Sharepoint for even better communication within the Santeon healthcare network.
‘The Macaw Data Platform framework we work with matched Santeon’s requirements seamlessly,’ says René. ‘So we were able to suffice with a regular implementation, which went very smoothly. Where we needed customization, we connected with Santeon’s data analysts and identified which tools were desirable for them on Azure. At every step we paid a lot of attention to security; an extra security layer ensures that data is not only encrypted, but also anonymized. Analyses of the data take place within the HIPS environment, and the data within HIPS never leaves the platform.’
Level-headed and understanding
The blended teams of Macaw consultants, technical professionals and healthcare providers from Santeon have been key to the successful launch of HIPS, according to Michel and René. “We were a good match. Macaw doesn’t bring in people who think they know better, but they connect in an approachable and accessible way. That suited Santeon. By working together in a level-headed, understanding way and having our consultants on site a lot, the road to HIPS was without too many bumps,’ says René.
Relationship and agile working method
‘Macaw values a 1-to-1 relationship with clients. With Santeon, we therefore chose a form of cooperation in which we had short lines of communication with Santeon, and all seven hospitals in the country,’ says René. ‘Santeon did a fantastic job. If there were conflicting requests, we were always able to see the common ground together. Macaw’s agile approach ensured a controllable and predictable process, from the drawing board to the creation of the data platform.’
Demonstrating, doing it together and doing it yourself
To get all employees to see the value of the new, bold HIPS, Santeon set up an in-service training initiative with Macaw: HIPSpiration. In inspiration sessions, staff had the opportunity to explore how HIPS could support them in their daily work and learned the value of data-driven healthcare. ‘Macaw believes in the principle: demonstrate, then do it together and then do it yourself. Santeon picked up on that effortlessly, has meanwhile further developed the HIPS itself and hired people with the right skills. We only played an advisory role. Making yourself redundant is important to us, although of course we will still be involved in managing the platform,” says Michel.
‘If you bring together data on conditions and treatments from all seven hospitals, you can recognize patterns, make comparisons, innovate.’ Michel Hankel, Client Manager Macaw
The results: improved patient outcomes
Collaboration between multidisciplinary teams has improved, learning within the organization has increased, and the treatment experience for patients has improved. Patient satisfaction has increased.
Also working data-driven?
Santeon is proud of the changes they have made thanks to HIPS. The hospitals now use data-driven healthcare daily and encourage other hospitals around the country to also get started with a Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform. Does your healthcare organization also want to be innovative, progressive and relevant? Do you want to provide the best patient experience and use data and technology in a smart way for continuous improvements? We’d love to help!