Healthcare is one of the aspects of our lives that will be impacted most by information technology in the coming years. Trends such as personalized medicine, based on in-depth analysis of the human genome, proteome and other biological data will change the way diseases are diagnosed and treated. This also poses new challenges for physicians and other healthcare professionals, all of whom must consider many individual pieces of information from different sources and collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to take the right treatment decisions.
Filling a Gap in Medical Research & Treatment
Comprehensive Cancer Centers can be seen as the vanguard of this development as they 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. Yet, 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. The goal of the Medical Research Insights project is to fill this gap.
Among the most commonly needed functionality in oncology is patient cohort analysis. For example, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a new chemotherapy drug, a cancer center might want to invite some of their patients to participate in a clinical trial. However, these patients need to match certain criteria regarding the type of diagnosis, previous treatment history, age and others. After a clinical trial has finished, physicians need to evaluate the tested drug by comparing the trial cohort’s response to the treatment to a similar cohort treated with traditional drugs. Today, these tasks involve going through patient records manually and collecting the relevant information to then consolidate them, for instance in Excel spreadsheets.
With the Medical Research Insights solution, users can filter and group patients according to different attributes, which can be customized for different cancer centers. Thanks to a generic healthcare data model, patient data from many different sources, such as clinical information systems, tumor registries, biobank systems and even text documents like physicians’ notes can be accessed. Patient cohorts can be persisted and edited collaboratively, exported for further analysis in other software or compared according to different metrics, such as number of patients, age or treatment response. In addition, Medical Research Insights offers a comprehensive overview of each individual patient’s medical history in a graphical timeline, making it easy to access information on any level of detail.
From Idea to Product
Leveraging the SAP HANA platform, the first prototype of the solution was developed in early 2013 in close collaboration with the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), a leading comprehensive cancer center in Heidelberg, Germany.
In December 2013, the NCT and SAP pulled the trigger and put the solution into productive use at the NCT. Upon this important first step, the development team at the Innovation Center and SAP’s Design & Co-Innovation Center continuously collected user feedback from the NCT and worked together with the Healthcare and Analytics development team to turn the prototype and its underlying concept into a standard SAP product. The result of this new development phase was an extended set of analytical functionality that can be used by any organization conducting clinical research. On June 13 2014, the solution was released as Medical Research Insights 1.0.
Prominent Recognition and Awards
In November 2013, SAP received a special recognition from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for its contribution with the Stanford School of Medicine and the National Center for Tumor Diseases to help accelerate the Human Genome Project’s therapeutic promise of personalized medicine. Furthermore, Medical Research Insights received a Strategy & Research Professional Notable for the Core77 Design Awards 2014, was presented as the SAP HANA Innovation Award 2014 in the category “Social Hero Innovator”. Additionally, it won the German Design Award 2015 in the category “Excellent Communications Design – Interactive User Experience”, was a Finalist at the Interaction Awards 2015, was recognized with the iF Design Award 2015 and also has been awarded in the “Germany – Land of Ideas 2015” initiative.