One of the most important procurements and innovations at the new hospital currently under construction in Kainuu, Finland, is its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Since the very start of the project, lean thinking has been the guiding principle for planning the hospital’s day-to-day operations, and not just in terms of medical care either.
Construction of the new Kainuu hospital, which will open in 2020, has already reached roof height. The new ERP system is being supplied by Tieto and Imatis together and will be piloted by the emergency this coming autumn and introduced properly by early summer 2019. Tieto is responsible for the deployment of the project, as well as for support services and main user training.
The Kainuu Social Welfare and Health Care Joint Authority (Kainuun sote) already uses the Lifecare healthcare information system supplied by Tieto for specialised medical care, primary healthcare and dental care, and the new Imatis ERP system will expand on these services. The new system is expected to generate significant cost savings in the future.
ICT Planner Ritva Heikkinen and Project Manager Terho Pekkala, both members of the hospital’s implementation team, are enthusiastic about the new systems.
“Probably the biggest change is in our way of thinking and doing things. We began planning and developing the new systems only after we had a clear picture of how we would operate in the future. Communication between hospital units has become one of the key issues,” Ritva Heikkinen says.
“When you know what is happening within each unit, such as the number of patients and how many are due to be released, operations can be made more efficient.” Terho Pekkala points out that the challenge for the entire healthcare sector is to help patients recover their functionality as well as possible, so rehabilitation will be included in the care plan right from the start. The new IT systems will help extend the so-called wall-less hospital throughout the entire care chain and all the way to the patient’s home.
“Improved predictability will help reduce the number of patients taken in just to be on the safe side. Discharging patients from the hospital is an important part of their treatment. The prerequisites for providing home care, such as providing the right equipment, should be ensured in advance, and the new ERP system will help control this chain,” Pekkala says.
The new Kainuu hospital and its operations have been thoroughly planned over several years. During the preparatory period, similar ongoing projects in Finland were studied in detail, and the new hospital’s operations were considered from all perspectives. Key priorities that were highlighted included logistical efficiency and patient guidance communications.
“It became very apparent at one point that resource planning would play a vital role in terms of efficiency. We also realised that the flow of information is just as important for patients as it is for healthcare professionals,” Heikkinen explains.
Tieto´s Kimmo Alaniska, Head of business development, and Bjørn Olav Nygård, VP Sales at Imatis, also highlight the importance of detailed project planning and preparations both in hospital and regional healthcare centres in the region.
“By working together and selecting the best experts and partners, we are able to develop the best overall package. Strategic partnerships play an important role in Tieto’s strategy,” Alaniska says.
“Our solution combines the leading healthcare expertise of both partners. Tieto has strong expertise in the implementation of social and healthcare solutions and services, while Imatis has strong global experience in modernising hospital ERP systems”, Alaniska continues.
“Imatis and Tieto systems are very compatible, and I am convinced that we will achieve an excellent result for the new Kainuu hospital. Enhanced resource planning is extremely important in hospital environments,” Nygård adds.
“The new ERP system will improve patient safety by providing a structured and systematic way of treating patients. Shared information will improve the work of clinicians, and they will have more time to spend treating patients.”
Kainuu aims to make the provision of healthcare services 10 percent more efficient, which equates to annual cost savings of between 5 and 6 million euros. Heikkinen points out that the full cost savings will not be seen immediately but rather over the longer term.
“Now it is important to invest in the best equipment, which of course generates costs. In the future, the aim is to streamline the entire chain so that as much care can take place in the patient’s own environment. For example, there has been little home rehabilitation in the past, but now it can be increased. We also have high expectations regarding the latest measuring equipment and wireless data transfer technologies,” Heikkinen says.
According to Bjørn Olav Nygård, Kainuu is very committed to the planning, implementation and utilisation of the new systems, and he believes that the targets in terms of improving care and saving resources, both operationally and financially, can be achieved.
During the procurement phase for the new ERP system, ICT Planner Ritva Heikkinen and Project Manager Terho Pekkala were pleased with the negotiation method that was used.
“During the negotiation process, your own understanding improves over time, so you don’t have to know everything immediately. In this kind of project, it’s not a good thing if discussions are held only on paper. The negotiation method resulted in three candidates with whom negotiations began in autumn 2017 based on the preliminary requirements. The final decision was made based on the final offers. Functionally, all the proposals were very similar to each other,” Heikkinen says.
Terho Pekkala also highlights the importance of the alliance model for the new Kainuu hospital project, in which all partners share responsibility.
“This model differs from ordinary construction projects in terms of joint responsibility. All parties are equally interested in the targets set for resource planning,” Pekkala confirms.