Hospital 4.0

Lean digital-supported logistics processes in hospitals

Hospital 4.0

The aim of the research project Hospital 4.0 is the further development of innovative logistics systems in hospitals by using existing digital technologies. Within the framework of the two reference processes, warehouse logistics and bed logistics, a reference model of the vision Hospital Logistics 2030 is being developed as well as pilots that are to demonstrate the potential of digitalisation.

Name Hospital 4.0
Funding Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Project Manager Karlsruher Institut for Technology
Funding programm Technology-based service systems
Funding number according to notification 02K16C180
Start 01.09.2017
Ende 31.08.2020
Project duration 3 years
Project lead Prof. Dr. Henner Gimpel

Prof. Dr. Henner Gimpel

Chair for Digital Management

Initial situation

As a central component of the health care system, hospitals provide socially important health care services. The medical core processes are supported by numerous logistics processes, which are characterized in particular by high requirements regarding quality, individualization to individual patients, real-time responsiveness and cost efficiency. Today, these logistics processes are characterized by inefficiency and waste in many hospitals due to historically grown structures and paper-based requirements. This means that logistics-related tasks in hospitals in particular take up a large proportion of the time available to doctors and nursing staff. As a result, the actual value-creating core business – the diagnosis, treatment and care of the patient – is severely curtailed. This is where the use of digital technologies comes in.

Aim of the project

In line with the vision of Industry 4.0 and the digitalization of the health care system, the use of digital technologies promises considerable potential for qualitatively improved and more efficient patient care through the availability of relevant information in real time, by means of the networking of all actors and resources involved in hospital operations. The aim of the project “Hospital 4.0″”, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the “Technology-based service systems” funding priority, is the further development and exemplary implementation of innovative logistics systems in hospitals through the use of existing digital technologies. The project aims to take a holistic view of logistics processes in hospitals with their special requirements and challenges, to develop new methods for analysing and benchmarking logistics systems, to develop new concepts for increasing added value through the targeted use of existing technologies and to demonstrate their value in the project.

Based on these findings, an organizational learning concept will be developed that leads to an increase in the quality and efficiency of hospital logistics processes, resulting in improved patient care. Starting point of the project is the development of an initial sustainable reference model of the Hospital 2030. Based on a comprehensive analysis of existing logistics systems and technological innovations, digital technologies will be tested for their suitability.

The two processes of storage/picking and bed logistics at the hospital in Augsburg and Bayreuth will be used to measure and evaluate the current degree of digitalization. Established methods such as value stream analysis and value added heat maps are used for this purpose. By comparing the degree of digitization with the reference model, potential for improving the two processes, which are only made possible by digital technologies, is identified. From this, recommendations for action are derived and piloted in the context of a prototypical implementation. In addition, the entirety of measures derived, methods developed, surveys conducted and potential analyses will be aggregated in a learning concept. In the course of the project, process and organisational blueprints will be developed which will be benchmarked as best practice and tested in the participating hospitals. These will be made available to all German hospitals for planning and optimizing the use of digital technologies in their own processes. Additionally, designed and developed software modules extend already existing hospital and logistics information systems. This enables the additional provision of necessary data and information (e.g. by extending location information on the basis of tracking hardware) and the meaningful planning (e.g. by simulation or optimization models) of the use of resources on this basis.