Information Technology at Erasmus MC

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Erasmus MC IT / business alignment positioning in the Adaptive Cycle

The topic IT/business alignment played an important role in the lecture Information Management and organizational change. The target of this interview section is to figure out what role IT plays in organizational change and how IT impacts the organization Erasmus Medical Center (Erasmus MC). The following insights gained from the discussion help to clarify the current position of the department in the adaptive cycle. In line with the subsequent observation, the detected trend can be described as in progress from crisis to experiment with various pilot projects.

The role of information technology for Erasmus MC department KNO-heelkunde

Prof. Robert J. Baatenburg’s response: IT is used and plays an important role for the organization. Regarding technology for surgery and medical purposes: We follow the latest literature which informs us about new development in medical science. Furthermore there are congresses where we get information about new developments. Decisions to implement and buy new technology are based on these sources.

Curiosity team reflection: It is imperative to notice the department follows the latest development in the field, which helps it to stay up-to-date and retain the competitive edge over other hospitals.

Information Systems for more demanding patients at Erasmus MC

Philip Backx’s response: We use our Internet Website to inform the patients with general Information. Furthermore there are plans for developing a patient information system. A system which provides the patient with personal information about his/her treatment. E.g. the doctor tells the patient, that a CT is required. The patient can log in to the system and finds information about a CT and what it means for his treatment. The patient does not get the information in all details but step by step. The content for this system has been developed but with a big organization like Erasmus MC it takes time to get the IT going.

Curiosity team reflection: At the beginning of the interview Robert J. Baatenburg de Jong and Philip Backx described the trend of more demanding patients, as mentioned in section: Curiosity at Erasmus MC chapter 2.2. Patients are better informed and share their experience with other patients over the internet. Overall this is a positive development which may enhance the quality of healthcare but it is also a new challenge for the medical staff. The question raised by this discussion is how to deal with the needs of more demanding patients and the new challenges coming with these demands for the medical stuff.

Suggestions: There is a huge growing body of literature describing information technology used to support healthcare. One of our group members connected his former work experience with the aspect described above. The project p-medicine focuses on the issues described above. The aim of the project p-medicine is to develop new tools, IT infrastructure and Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) models to accelerate personalized medicine. The project is an EU funded endeavor and has 19 partners in 9 Europe countries. One of the tools developed in this project is a Workflow Management System. The system, among others, is mainly designed to support medical analysis. The results of the medical analysis will be offered to different user groups, also the patients. This system has similarity with the system described by Philip Backx, in terms of its plan to inform the patient about his/her treatment and to integrate treatment results.

Medical Information platform for the region

Philip Backx’s response: Erasmus MC is working on a platform which is integrating data from different hospitals suppliers and others in the region. Patients, medical staff and supplier can use this platform to find the information they need. The different user groups have different access rights. The infrastructure for this system is online but the content is still needs improvement. The reason for creating this platform is that the hospitals in this region use different information systems. The idea of this platform is to integrate these different information systems.

Curiosity team reflection: Erasmus MC is concurrently working on a platform which integrates data from different sources in the region e.g. hospitals, suppliers etc. One of the reasons why this system has been developed is the lack of integration with the different information systems in use.

Social media at Erasmus MC

Philip Backx’s response: Social Media is also a topic for us. Social media can have different focuses, for example to inform patients or to communicate with patients. Older patients are not as willing to use social media as younger people. We are working on a project for developing a Facebook page. Beside the possibility of informing patients we are also thinking about chatting features. E.g. once a month patients can chat with doctors to exchange information. This project is still in the development phase. There will be a pilot. Based on the pilot we will make the decision if we will go ahead with the project.

Curiosity team reflection: Social media is an often discuss concept in today’s business world. Erasmus MC, even though it’s a state owned organization is also a subject to competition in this field. The chief issue in this respect is the fact that social media is currently considered as an extra effort.

Issues related to Information Systems

Prof. Robert J. Baatenburg’s response: Every Department has its own system to digitize patient data, but in the near future (in about 2 years) we plan to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) that integrates data between the different departments. The system will be bought in the next two month and will be running in two years. An important issue in healthcare is also the topic IT security and privacy policies. This topic plays an important role when implementing new IT solutions. Philip Backx’s response: Another issue is funding. There was a project which focused on exchanging patient data using cloud technology. The investors didn’t see possible return for investment. That’s often an issue in healthcare.

Curiosity team reflection: The statements above give a brief overview of IT related issues in the healthcare sector, particularly at Erasmus MC. One of the main concerns is the integration of data between hospitals as described in chapter 3. This issue plays also a role in the different departments at Erasmus MC.

Reflection and relation to the Adaptive Cycle

In the light of research related to the Adaptive Cycle we identified some issues which can be related to a crisis situation in the case study at Erasmus MC. Erasmus MC is facing several issues as described in chapter 5. In this chapter we reflect on two areas. The first one is related to more demanding patients and the second one refers to the data integration and communication between departments at Erasmus MC and hospitals in the region.

Adaptive Cycle Erasmus MC: More demanding patients

In the interview, a few indications lead to the conclusion that today’s patients are better informed and more demanding than before. This situation can be described as a crisis (red) that needs to be addressed. Erasmus MC is addressing this crisis (blue) with training their medical stuff, as described in the interview before. They are also developing an Information System that provides personalized information. Furthermore, they are working on social Media solutions for the patients. This issue could be addressed in further investigations because neither the Information System nor the social media solutions have been fully implemented so far. The integration problem of patient data and data in general can also be interpreted as a crisis situation.

Adaptive Cycle Erasmus MC: Patient Data Integration

The crisis is addressed (blue) with the development of a medical information platform and an ERP System for Erasmus EC to integrate the data in the different departments. This shows that an IT solution can be used to attempt to solve a crisis situation. Further investigation is necessary to determine the outcome of these new developments.


For further information regarding the Company, the Interviewees, the Interview Structure or Reflections obtained during the process, see Case study Group 2.

For further information regarding the role of Curiosity in the Adaptive Cycle go back to Group 2 Student Lecture.