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Article February 6th, 2024

by Mikko Lehto, Business Area Head of Government & Health

Where's the patient?

Imagine a scenario where doctors no longer need to rush to the department secretary to learn the room availability for patient consultations. Our solution for space resource management in healthcare empowers the creation of novel business models, even in multi-vendor environments. Several wellbeing services counties in Finland are already pioneering this transformative journey. 

Female doctor holding tablet in the dark

Public administrations and services often suffer from inefficient processes, complex routines, and manual tasks that slow down customer and patient service and add to the workload of already burdened staff. Nevertheless, it’s heartening to witness how some Finnish well-being services counties are already thinking forward by harnessing the potential of today’s modern technology to facilitate incremental progress in streamlining processes and enhancing information transparency. 

We’ve had the privilege of developing numerous digital solutions that enhance the daily experiences of healthcare professionals. One example of an implementation we’ve developed is the solution for space resource management in healthcare, tailored explicitly for well-being services counties purposes. Leveraging modern data repositories, we’ve constructed features that allow users to access room information and make reception room reservations while the solution automatically optimizes facility utilization. 

Placing valuable information directly in the hands of doctors

The solution finds its most common application in public administration organizations, primarily those aiming to optimize their space utilization for enhanced efficiency. For instance, the traditional concept of doctors having dedicated rooms has evolved in hospital outpatient clinics. Modern hospital facilities now incorporate “efficient square meters,” constructing rooms only as needed. Doctors rotate through various rooms based on the specific requirements of each examination or procedure. 

This new approach, while efficient, has introduced a unique challenge to the daily routines of doctors accustomed to having their own or shared office spaces: the constant question of where to find each patient at a given time. In the worst-case scenario, last-minute room changes can confuse both patients and doctors, with room allocations sometimes retrieved from Excel spreadsheets taped to the break room’s refrigerator. 

The solution for space resource management we’ve developed for our customers gathers data from booked appointments, optimizes room allocations – considering factors like doctors moving between appointments – and seamlessly integrates the results into doctors’ Outlook calendars. In the background, the application communicates through ready-made or custom-built interfaces, such as utilizing the HL7 FHIR standard. Additionally, it can be integrated with various systems, including patient information systems, facility information services like Modulo, registration, and other background systems. 

The solution’s optimization algorithm was developed through collaboration with healthcare professionals. They determined the requirements prioritization, and our team translated them into a technological solution. We also leveraged expertise from the manufacturing industry, considering factors such as ensuring that the busiest doctors with consecutive appointments can stay in the same room as much as possible. Those with less frequent appointments can move between rooms, focusing on ensuring these rooms are located on the same floor, all while considering the specific equipment needed for each procedure. 

From project kick-off to full production in only three months

Compared to traditional coding, the compelling advantage of low-code development, which is being used in these projects, lies in its agility and speed. For instance, if a project kicks off in November, the initial components are poised for testing in December, with full production slated to start in February. In the world of custom coding, achieving such implementation timelines is often deemed unattainable, especially for solutions involving multiple data sources and integrating various backend systems. 

The Microsoft Power Platform low-code tools, coupled with the Dataverse database, seamlessly facilitate the transition from low-code to incorporating components created with other tools, like Microsoft Azure functions. Analysis can be conducted within the customer’s specific environment, with the outcomes seamlessly presented to users through a mobile interface. 

Microsoft Azure’s extensive array of analytical tools and AI solutions also opens compelling avenues for developing other applications. Once the optimization algorithm is executed, an array of parameters can be incorporated almost limitlessly. For example, in space optimization, one can extend it to include tracking patient movement within a hospital. Additionally, if it’s crucial for a patient to see a doctor in the same room consistently, this requirement can be factored into room allocation. By making statistics related to room maintenance and hospital service requests accessible through Dataverse, the system could learn to predict cleaning needs and schedule these operations when the room remains unoccupied. 

A multi-vendor environment – it can work after all

Our solution for space resource management frequently serves as the backend for our customers’ other systems, which different parties may manage. In many cases, the concept of a multi-vendor environment is met with skepticism: data often doesn’t flow smoothly, and systems are developed in isolated silos without consideration for interoperability, resulting in a lack of cohesion. 

Nevertheless, through real-life scenarios in the healthcare sector, the solution has demonstrated that it’s entirely feasible to create data-driven multi-vendor solutions in a large hybrid environment in a cost-effective and agile manner. Whether it involves ready-made or customized user interfaces, all vendors rely on the same Dataverse as their central data repository. The solution efficiently transfers data to and from other systems using a lightweight API layer, ensuring that space information is accessible to all applications. In this context, Dataverse is the master for space-related information, rendering separate status tables obsolete. 

While daily collaborations still occur within a cooperative framework among various suppliers, agreements are reached on integrating data from the Modulo data service, data warehouses, or other core systems. In practice, modern technological solutions – combined with comprehensive architectural design, implementation, and the deployment of common architecture and development practices – provide tools and templates for reconciliations and define data access rights, facilitating the harmonious operation of this multi-vendor ecosystem. 

Satakunta impact case

The scale of economic savings the wellbeing services county in Satakunta will achieve by the space resource management solution, is illustrated by the fact that if all professionals still had their own offices, the new hospital building would have had to be three times bigger than it is now.

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