Catalonian Healthcare chooses IBM for 20 million euro transformation project

Barcelona 03 July 2006The Institut Català de la Salut (ICS) has entered into a 20 million euro, 4-year agreement with IBM to transform and modernise the health care information systems at 8 Catalonian hospitals. IBM consultants will provide industry expertise to create and implement new systems, improving the quality of health services offered to citizens of the region. In addition, IBM is creating a 2 million euro centre in Barcelona to develop innovative technologies and solutions to meet the demands of the European health care sector.


ICS is the major provider of health services in Catalonia. With more than 35.000 professionals, it represents 80 percent of primary health care in Catalonia and 30 percent of hospital health care. The agreement with IBM calls for a new design of all the steps needed to offer clinical treatment to a patient and is core to the transformation of the region's entire health care system.

IBM is also working in the design and implementation of a new management model for all financial and economic management processes as well as the supply chain and logistics. IBM business consultants will also be creating a new model for Human Resources processes aimed at improving staff efficiency, as well as a new system for patient and clinic management.

The aim is to transform the entire system, simplifying processes for both health care workers and management. This means that patients will benefit from an agile service involving less administrative tasks and red tape. It makes for easier access to doctors and more precise diagnoses.

One of the key elements of the project is an electronic history of each patient, available to medical staff in each hospital. This solution includes vital details including previous ailments and medical test results through to allergy data. For patients, this means shorter waiting times for treatment, a single medical file with consolidated, up-to-date information and ensured confidentiality in a secure information system.

Medical staff will benefit from having immediate and easy access to each patient's medical history along with all X-rays and scanner images and be able to provide a more precise diagnosis, with the correct drugs available as required. The project extends to the administration of the hospitals with improved payroll and banking management and an upgraded shift scheduling system.

"Innovation today is about applying the latest technology and thinking to solve complex problems. In health care, there are a range of issues where innovation can play an important, transformational role", stated José María Joana, IBM Global Business Services for Spain, Portugal, Greece, Israel and Turkey. "This project positions ICS as one of the leaders in the health care sector, and we look forward to working with ICS to improve the quality of health care services for the citizens of Catalonia."

This agreement follows a contract signed by IBM with ICS in 2005 for the transformation of their financial and procurement processes and the new project demonstrates IBM's leadership position in the health care industry.

The IBM Healthcare Competency Centre will serve as a bridge between IBM Research Labs, IBM business consultants, and health care companies and organisations. Among the objectives of the centre are to create analyses and background information about technology requirements in health care and respond to the real needs of the sector. This will help accelerate new research discoveries into clinical practice. One of the initial goals is to enable medical staff to access a patient's complete, digitised history and all medical records and scans in near-real time, enabling precise, immediate treatment.

Included among the specific projects the Barcelona centre will cover are:

  • Data conversion from current systems - primarily paper-based - to modern IT systems. This will fast-track the development of electronic individual patient histories and medical records.
  • Improvement interoperability of heterogeneous systems, organisations and technologies. The inclusion of medical images, such as scans and X-rays, in each electronic medical history will help ensure a uniform standard of service and more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
  • Improvement of accessibility to health care systems with Web-based technologies.
  • Improvement of privacy and security solutions.
  • Development of solutions based on pervasive computing.
  • Development of a new model for change management to help manage the availability of resources during the modernisation process.

"IBM is leveraging the capacity and talent in Catalonia, which is fast becoming an international reference in biomedical research and innovation", stated José María Joana. "The centre will help to boost innovation in the industry across Europe, building on the experience and expertise of our specialised health care consultants."

With several thousand specialists working on the development of solutions and services for the health care sector worldwide, IBM is deeply engaged in transforming health care. IBM is enabling innovations in medical research and life sciences in areas from cancer to AIDS/HIV; helping the pharmaceutical industry and related companies discover and test new treatments; and advancing how health care is delivered, managed, measured and personalised.

IBM has also pledged royalty-free access to its patent portfolio for the development and implementation of selected open software standards for the health care sector. The IBM Healthcare Competency Centre is being established at the IBM premises in Barcelona and will open in September this year.

Leslie Versweyveld

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