Germany’s largest software company SAP and its partner Accenture will release an integrated care solution, called the Collaborative Health Network, in December.

The new solution will then be tested in pilot projects in several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

With the CHN solution, SAP/Accenture will compete with a number of other big players in the health IT-business, among them Siemens with its solution Soarian Integrated Care, Microsoft with EHIP, and T-System with eHealth.connect. Siemens and T-Systems are close allies of SAP in the field of IT solutions for hospitals.

In an exclusive interview with E-Health Europe, Bernhard Thibaut, head of the healthcare software business at SAP, said such competition would not be a problem: “This is how the IT-business goes. Partners in one field can be competitors in another”.

He told EHE it was time for SAP to come up with its own solution: “Indeed we are a bit late already.“

He said that, after the release of CHN in December 2007, pilot projects will start quickly. At the moment, there are talks with hospitals in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. “The goal will be to network these hospitals with rehab facilities, out patient departments, and doctors in private practice“. Hospitals are SAP’s key customers in the health IT business.

In spite of CHN, Thibaut said again that SAP was not planning to offer an own hospital information system with clinical modules but to leave this part to its partners. “It is easy to see for our partners what SAP can and will do and what it won’t do.”

Thibaut stressed that the health-IT market in recent years has been a difficult one for global players that are dependent on big customers. “In Germany, for example, the number of bid invitations for big deals in 2007 was in the low one-digit range.”

Other countries proved to be difficult as well. In the US, where SAP is partnering with Siemens on a joint product based on SAP’s administrative solutions and Siemens’ electronic patient record Soarian, SAP’s expectations have not been fulfilled so far. “It would be exaggerated to say that we are fully satisfied with how things developed”, said Thibaut.

He added that to become less dependent on big customers, SAP is increasingly targeting smaller units in healthcare, including outpatient clinics and regional health networks.


Read Full interview here