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SAP has positioned its HANA in-memory data platform at the core of its “run simple” approach. Although the theme of simplicity resonates with industries struggling with IT and business complexity, many have questioned how practical and viable a HANA-based solution will be for the average enterprise, in aspects such as cost, integration, deployment, and, most importantly, clearly differentiated benefits. At this year’s Sapphire event, we found some answers to these questions in conversations with healthcare organizations that are feeling the pain of the “data-rich, insight-poor” challenge. A notable sweet spot for HANA is in the final “insights to action” conundrum, whereby analytics become embedded into processes and point-of-care decision support. As the big data health challenge (unstructured data and machine data, in particular) looms ever closer for the health sector, SAP’s overall positioning bodes well for progress.

Slowness and complexity are major health analytics stumbling blocks

At Sapphire we spoke with US-based Sutter Health, Weill Cornell Medical College, Kindred Healthcare, and the University of Utah. They all face major change in shifting to value-based reimbursement and patient-centric care, and this requires much more effective use of analytics. In the short term, there are two big pain points: the length of time it takes to assemble and prepare data for analytics, and how to deal with the variety and veracity of data. In this respect, speed and performance were key reasons for deploying HANA. Although communicating the importance of this at the C-level remains a challenge, the headlines of “reducing the time spent by high-value staff on commodity data tasks” and “improving time to insight” are the ones we hear across the board.

Pragmatic healthcare analytics roadmaps

Organizations deploying HANA are doing so selectively, to solve a pain point, but with an eye on a future in which real-time/big data analytics functionality will be more important. The pragmatic message is “it’s not all about HANA, it’s about HANA’s role in a wider data ecosystem.” This is important. For example, it’s clear that more healthcare organizations are deploying Hadoop. So HANA S/4’s rapprochement with Hadoop plays well to the need for pragmatic solutions, which also deal with the cost challenge. If SAP can continue to develop viable deployment roadmaps for HANA as part of a wider solution play, then it faces a better chance of winning business and mind share in an increasingly crowded analytics market place.


Further reading

“HIMSS 2015: The good, the bad, and the promising,” IT0011-000355 (April 2015)

“SAP unveils the next-generation business suite – S/4HANA,” IT0014-002989 (February 2015)

“Healthcare modernization: Strong ecosystems will reduce complexity,” IT0011-000347 (February 2015)

2015 Trends to Watch: Healthcare Technology,IT0011-000328 (November 2014)

“Making analytics a first-class healthcare citizen: lessons from Oracle customers,” IT0011-000335 (November 2014)

Effective Information Sharing in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities, IT0011-000324 (July 2014)


Charlotte Davies, Lead Analyst, Healthcare

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