“Less technology and more humanity.”
This is the guiding principle that Norman Lüttgerding, CIO of Braunschweig Municipal Hospital, uses as he navigates the German organization through its digital transformation journey. As CIO of a hospital with 4,000 employees and 1.2 million potential patients, Lüttgerding’s actions impact a lot of people.
“A hospital CIO must always remember that the primary job of the hospital is to improve the health of a patient,” Lüttgerding says. “Any changes the IT team makes to processes must benefit the clinician and the patient. That means we need to really understand what our clinicians do and ensure we enable them—not hinder them. This is what I mean by less technology and more humanity.”
Germany, along with many other European countries, faces increasing healthcare demand and costs driven by:
- An aging population.
- A skills shortage.
- Strict data protection and IT security regulations.
At the same time, healthcare is becoming consumerized as patients become more knowledgeable and demanding about the treatment they want and expect.
Forward-looking CIOs like Lüttgerding leverage digital transformation to deal with these challenges. They must be change agents and innovators first—and technologists second.
“The role of the healthcare CIO has changed tremendously,” says Lüttgerding. “It’s no longer just about building and maintaining infrastructure and networks. Today, it’s about having a deep understanding of how the hospital runs and ensuring a focus on clinical outcomes as the primary goal of any transformation. CIOs today need business insight, change, energy and a focus on innovation.”
Braunschweig Municipal Hospital is progressing well through its digital transformation. Working with VMware, the IT team is ready to take advantage of new technologies and future healthcare developments. Lüttgerding is particularly excited about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). He points to how intelligence from images and data sets will help staff with making diagnoses faster and with real-time clinical decision-making.
He also highlights how IoT can help solve a common challenge faced by hospitals.
“Unfortunately, medical equipment often gets lost, stolen or is in short supply. This can be really disruptive and have serious consequences on patient care,” says Lüttgerding. “With IoT, we will be able to track and locate missing medical equipment. It reduces the time spent finding the equipment and avoids replacement costs.”
When asked what he would say to others considering becoming a CIO in the health industry, Lüttgerding’s passion for his job is apparent.
“There has never been a better time to be a hospital CIO,” he says. “It’s a privileged position. You get to drive the future of the hospital and contribute to the future of healthcare delivery. What fascinates and excites me again and again is the complexity of the relationship between technology and human beings, between patients and digitization. That brings ever new challenges.”