Joint project of the Essen University Medical Center to design the hospital of tomorrow

Press release

Press release on the occasion of the funding announcement (February, 2021)

SmartHospital.NRW: Shaping the future hospital with artificial intelligence

“KI.NRW lighthouse project SmartHospital.NRW puts North Rhine-Westphalia in a leading position in the German and European healthcare sector,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart. In a consortium led by the University Medical Center Essen, scientists and experts are developing a process model to pave the way for the transformation of existing hospitals into intelligent facilities of the future (“Smart Hospitals”). Artificial intelligence (AI) systems have enormous potential, particularly in terms of increasing efficiency, supporting diagnostics and reducing the workload of staff – especially in the event of unforeseen crisis such as a pandemic. SmartHospital.NRW will leverage this potential and make it available to hospitals in NRW.

Digital technologies offer great opportunities for the healthcare sector. The constantly growing amount of health data makes it possible to develop intelligent and personalized applications for early health detection, diagnostics, treatment and aftercare. In order to utilize this potential and realize the vision of a patient-centric AI hospital, the project is being funded by the state of NRW with 14 million euros. A corresponding funding notification was handed over by Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economic Affairs NRW, to Dr. med. Anke Diehl, Chief Transformation Officer at Essen University Hospital, and Prof. Dr. Stefan Wrobel, Director of Fraunhofer IAIS.

One goal is to develop a transferable process model that can be applied to hospitals with different degrees of digitization. Essen University Hospital, which set out on the path to becoming a smart hospital back in 2015 under the leadership of Medical Director and CEO Prof. Dr. Jochen A. Werner, serves as a model. On the other hand AI-based applications for real-life application scenarios are being developed and tested in exemplary fashion, such as the intelligent creation and processing of medical documents, AI-supported health data analysis for diagnostic support, or the use of voice interfaces for contactless and thus sterile operation of computers at the workplace.

Another aim is to establish a showroom at the University Medical Center Essen in order to present the developed applications to a professional public and evaluate their clinical application possibilities with representatives of other hospitals.

Patients and staff at the center of AI development

The SmartHospital.NRW project is closely aligned with the strategic goals of the KI.NRW competence platform. Smart.Hospital.NRW thinks people at the center of AI development. AI-based solutions must be – without exception – designed, tested and deployed in a responsibly way, since they deal with extremely sensitive data and support human-related processes or even decisions. Inevitably, personnel must also be prepared for possible handling and trained accordingly, which is why the identification of qualification needs as input for possible future training is also part of the project.

Flagship updates

© Universitätzmedizin Essen
SmartHospital.NRW opens its doors
Open house afternoon in the showroom of the medical flagship
Prof. Felix Nensa from “SmartHospital.NRW” as a guest on the ZDF programme Markus Lanz on 8 February 2024
© Leissring/MWIKE.NRW
NRW Minister President Wüst visits the “SmartHospital.NRW” booth at MEDICA 2023
© Sebastian Wolf /
Interview with Dr Anke Diehl on digitalisation in hospitals
Interactive online tool shows use cases of artificial intelligence in hospitals
© Universitätsmedizin Essen/Ina Fassbender
Minister of Economic Affairs Neubaur opens showroom in Essen
Ready for the smart hospital?
AI readiness check and accompanying white paper
© Dr Jill Sander & SmartHospital
SmartHospital.NRW at Medica 2022
© Anke Diehl
Dr. Anke Diehl is Physician of the Year 2021
© pch vector/ & KI.NRW
AI projects for better medicine
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
© pch vector/ & KI.NRW
If you knew all you know
26.02.2021 • ÄrzteZeitung
© Elmar Borrmann/Fraunhofer IAIS
SmartHospital.NRW at Medica 2021

Voices on the research project

Dr. med. Anke Diehl

Chief Transformation Officer University Medical Center Essen


“Together with our partners, we are creating the technical prerequisites for smart hospital and develop an individually customizable roadmap so that the change into the AI era can succeed throughout the entire industry.”

Prof. Dr. Stefan Wrobel

Director Fraunhofer IAIS


“Fraunhofer IAIS contributes its many years of experience in the development of AI technologies in order to work with strong partners to be able to test trustworthy and robust applications for real-world use scenarios in the smart hospital.”

Dr. Christian Temath

Managing Director KI.NRW


“SmartHospital.NRW brings artificial intelligence to where it can develop its greatest possible social benefit. Numerous patients will benefit from its use in medicine in the future, which is why we are very happy to support this project.”

Flagships powered by KI.NRW

Operating under the brand “Flagships powered by KI.NRW“, the Artificial Intelligence Competence Platform North Rhine-Westphalia supports projects funded by the state as AI lighthouse projects in order to support efficient technology transfer and close cooperation between SMEs, startups, universities, colleges and research institutions in NRW. Under the strategic auspices of KI.NRW, the competence platform provides communications support for the projects and positions NRW as an AI location by marketing the results at European level. One focus is on the sustainable transfer and further utilization of the project results.

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