Digital Vision: new approach of implementing technology

The Department of Gastroenterology is pioneering in digital transformation at Odense University Hospital (OUH). The innovative project is called Digital Vision and the purpose is clear: to create better work procedures and more time for the patients.

Digital Vision is a three-year (2019-2021) innovation and research project which will clear the way for a systematic approach on digitalisation and implementation of innovative technology on the departments of OUH, thereby improve them for New OUH.

Digital Vision turns the approach for innovative and digitalisation projects upside down and lets a whole hospital ward go through an extensive digital transformation, rather than the usual drop by drop approach which focuses on individual patient groups or technologies at a time.

Innovation laboratory in the clinical daily grind

The chosen department is the Department of Gastroenterology S, a special department with a bed unit, endoscopic ward, outpatient department and research centre. The approximately 150 members of staff in the department sees to about 65 patients a day in the nursing outpatient department, 80 patients in the doctor-patient clinic and has about 50 patients going through the endoscopic ward daily. Furthermore, the department has over 21 beds at its disposal for hospitalized patients. The department treats medical diseases in the gastrointestinal area as well as the liver, for example oesophagus, stomach ulcer, enteritis, complications regarding cirrhosis of the liver, liver inflammation and inflammation of the pancreas. The department sees to patients with the need for highly specialised treatment from all of the Southern Region of Denmark.

Besides the operational treatment, the department is the place of the elite research centre FLASH, which focuses on liver diseases. FLASH researches new diagnostic methods and correlations between liver damage and diet, intestinal flora, alcohol, diabetes and obesity. The aim of the research is to be able to offer patients with fatty liver disease a more effective treatment in the future and to improve their survival possibilities.

In recent years, the department has had an increasing number of patients – especially with liver diseases, intestinal failure and several special cancer diseases. A substantial number of new tests and treatments has been put to use and as a result, liver diseases are being discovered earlier in the process than before and patients have more options for their treatment.

“It is really good for OUH that a department has been chosen for the project which covers a wide area of patient groups and types, and where there are many clinical functions. The heavy logistics that come with the many functions crave good digital tools and good communication for both patients and staff, so the experience will benefit all of OUH as well as New OUH,” says the Contact Director of the department, Michael Dall.

This is why the Department of Gastroenterology was the right candidate for the ambitious project Digital Vision.

“Department S is proud to be the chosen project department for Digital Vision. When we first heard about the project, we immediately bid on the task, as we see big possibilities in participating in such a ground-breaking project”, says Head Nurse of the Department Management Louise Vestring and Chief Surgeon Karsten Lauritsen.

“Like all the other departments, we are used to getting new digital solutions in generic implementation strategies which at times can be a challenge on a busy daily basis. The digital solutions are good but without specific implementation strategies for each department and the full support for in-depth implementation, the systems unfortunately do not do themselves justice, at worst becoming an obstacle for the staff rather than the help it was thought out to be.

We wish to put our patients first and in order to do this in the best way possible, we have to help our staff to be able to get help from the digitalisation, in such a way that it releases time for the core task which is treating and caring for the patients of the department”.

About the project

Digital Vision implements IT-systems and innovative solutions collectively in one department in order to obtain the full effect of coherent digitalisation. The project is the first of its kind in Denmark – maybe even in Europe.

“If we want to have a real effect from our innovative solutions, it is necessary to involve and optimise the context. Isolated innovation is exciting in itself and can easily give value for both patients, relatives and staff. But the context has to be involved and optimised as with Digital Vision if we are going to revolutionise our way of running health service. Everything indicates that the latter is something we need. That method is what we are testing in Digital Vision”, says Head of Innovation at OUH, Tessa Lind Gjødesen.

The construction of the project ensures a full department-specific digitalisation by using as a starting point a thorough analysis of the department’s current use of IT-systems, that identify areas, where there is a need for adjustment of work procedures and functions (spring 2019). Subsequently, relevant IT-systems used in other places at OUH, which can improve the everyday work procedure and the patient communication based on experience from others, will be implemented. Last but not least, an innovation process will carry the project to its fullest. This phase will identify “gaps” where there is further potential for digitalisation and automatisation, but where there isn’t already a fitting technology at work at OUH. These gaps should be filled by developing and/or discovering new systems and technologies which can be tested and at last implemented at the department in connection with the existing digital systems.

The individual activities will be evaluated in order to carry out a final evaluation of the project at the end.

Digital Vision will thus pave the way for New OUH, where digitalisation is a keyword. It will create the optimal basis for using technological solutions for the benefit of patients and staff at OUH.

“Innovation in health services is not going fast enough. We see innovation as a discipline, where new possibilities and methods are being implemented quicker, concurrently with life outside health services. This is, for example, the case with the use of smartphone technology, where the clinical staff, contemporary with the needed monitoring and documentation, can be in direct contact with the patients and the relatives. Therefore, we have chosen Digital Vision as a strategic work tool to model for the additional OUH and health services in general”, says Peder Jest, Director and Chairman of the Innovation Council at OUH.

Follow the ongoing project 

Digital Vision

The first results

Since the start of the project in January, the focus has been on the department’s use of already-known IT-systems and covering the potential of implementing new solutions. If the existing systems cause trouble, the staff is not open towards new activities, which is why there among other things has been a focus on improving the use of the electronic patient journal Cosmic through peer-to-peer-coaching and special tutoring from Clinical IT.

This first phase made it clear that a huge barrier for digital work processes is the lack of smartphones for the staff. Furthermore, many staff-members feel like the patients frown upon the use of smartphones by the staff because it gives the impression that the staff is occupied by personal stuff rather than work-related tasks. Therefore, Digital Vision has designed special covers for the smartphones which clearly identifies, that this phone is a work-related tool.

In October, the department will be receiving smartphones with the new covers, when they have to use mobile digital work processes, for example, to access the Cetrea-system for managing the patient-flow and -tasks.


Michelle Lyndgaard Nielsen

Michelle Lyndgaard Nielsen

Innovation consultant | (+45) 2165 6406 | [email protected]