EDUCAÇÃO E TECNOLOGIA

Cross-Company Business Process Collaboration to achieve a frictionless supply chain for personalized cancer therapies and clinical trials


Credit to Raimund Gross, Andreas Göbel and Nico Flaig from Hypertrust Patient Data Care & Benjamin Stöckhert and Christopher Fries from SAP Innovation Center Network who helped realizing the innovation project and writing this blog post. 

Previously, we wrote about the transformative potential of SAP Cross-Company Workflow in general (Elevating Cross-Company Business Process Collaboration to the Next Level | SAP Blogs). This innovation extends SAP Workflow Management with blockchain technology to allow digital orchestration and automation of business processes beyond company boundaries and beyond business applications from different software vendors.

SAP Cross-Company Workflow is a no-code/low-code innovation that dramatically reduces the entry barriers for blockchain adoption in the enterprise space, as it empowers citizen developers and business experts to setup, execute and monitor secure cross-company processes without IT-involvement. In this post, we describe the application of this innovation to a pilot scenario from healthcare. Also watch the recording of our corresponding session at SAP TechEd 2021 (starting at minute 19:45) to learn more.

SAP and Hypertrust Patient Data Care (HPDC) worked closely together to create a proof-of-concept implementation for the integrated orchestration of personalized cancer therapies. Controlling these therapy processes is challenging and costly, as they rely on flawless interaction between very different participants along the treatment process such as clinics, laboratories, logistic service providers, pharmaceutical companies and contract manufacturers (CMO). Hence, many IT systems are involved and sensitive information must be shared across company boundaries. 

The general challenges and the outline of the scenario are covered in this post. Now let’s take a look under the hood and uncover what has been realized on a more technical level. 

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Figure 1: Business Process Flow Visualization

Figure 1 outlines a potential sequence of events in a cross-company workflow for orchestrating the production of personalized medicine that we implemented in the PoC. In practice, this process may follow alternatives steps that may lead to a higher degree of complexity.

The process starts at the hospital. A physician uses Hypertrust X-Chain to order treatment for a specific patient. Of course, data privacy and protection are very important here. Only anonymized data leaves the hospital and notifies the other participants in the network – pharma company and CMO – about the need to produce the medicine and the related logistics and timelines. 

This information distribution happens via the shared blockchain ledger, and the connected parties are informed as needed. You can think of it as an automated and immutable cross-company orchestration. As part of the described workflow, the pharma company verifies eligibility for the treatment and approves it. Then the CMO receives a notification to plan and start production in her SAP S4/HANA system.  

This video shows a demo walkthrough of this end-to-end scenario with all three perspectives:

Step-by-step breakdown of this workflow

Preparation: Each collaboration is based on rules to govern the transfer of workflow tasks between multiple organizations. These collaboration rules can be configured by business users via a no-code/low-code approach, creating a collaboration template that defines actors, tasks, attributes, due dates, and more (see Figure 2). In this case, the template for a decision task is created. This only needs to be done once for repetitive upcoming collaboration workflows. 

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Figure 2: No-Code Collaboration Template

Step 1: In order to create a new treatment, the patient to be treated must be registered first. After that, the treatment and its assigned patient appear in the list of treatments in Hypertrust PDC’s Workflow Overview screen (see Figure 3).

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Figure 3: Patient On-Boarding. View of the clinic/physician.

Step 2: The next process step is to check the patient’s eligibility. A corresponding request is created and triggers a task that is sent by the hospital to the pharma company. The responsible expert can doublecheck the patient’s data points and then provide a decision. Figure 4 shows that the tight integration with SAP Workflow Management allows the expert to use the My Inbox app where all cross-company as well as internal requests can be found and answered on mobile or desktop devices. 

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Figure 4: SAP Workflow Management Inbox with request from the hospital

Step 3: The hospital triggers a cross-company production slot request from a local workflow to the CMO by registering the task on the shared blockchain ledger. The CMO has to confirm the production slot proposed by the hospital after the production planning has been executed in her S/4HANA system.  

Step 4: As described, the pharma company and the CMO both shared the outcome of their internal decision workflow (e.g., production slot approved) via SAP Cross-Company Workflow and the underlying shared ledger. For the hospital, this outcome will trigger a respective internal workflow to administer the medicine and complete the treatment.

Streamlining trustworthy collaboration orchestration and visibility


The big advantage of this open, cross-company innovation: it is possible to replace inefficient and tedious manual cross-company practices with automated decentralized processes and workflows, regardless of the exact business applications used by each party.
  

The cross-company activities are registered and chronologically ordered on an immutable blockchain ledger that is shared with all collaboration participants. This enables a consistent and cryptographically verifiable audit trail that allows to meet various industry and regulatory requirements.  

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Figure 5: UI representing the cross-company audit trial from the perspective of the hospital. Note that the patient’s name has been substituted with an identifier (subject ID) to not reveal any sensitive data.

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Figure 6: UI representing the cross-company audit trial from the CMO’s perspective

In addition, the real-time transparency provided (see Figure 5 & Figure 6) helps identify otherwise undetected challenges and resolve them with proactive countermeasures to avoid delays, for example. 

Thank you for reading this blog post and please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or remarks. For further discussions surrounding Blockchain, please refer to the Blockchain Tag on SAP Community. To stay up to date on SAP Workflow Management, you might want to follow the Community Topic.


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