News Entry

SmartHospital.NRW: Designing the hospital of tomorrow with artificial intelligence


Pr. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economic Affairs and Digitalization, states: »Projects such as the KI.NRW lighthouse SmartHospital.NRW enable North Rhine-Westphalia to grow towards a leading position in the German and European healthcare sector.«

In a consortium led by Essen University Hospital, a team of scientists from the Fraunhofer Institutes for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS and for Digital Medicine MEVIS, RWTH Aachen University and TU Dortmund University, together with experts from m.Doc GmbH and GSG Consulting GmbH, are developing concepts and solutions for transforming hospitals in NRW into so-called »smart hospitals«. The funding decision, worth around 14 million euros, was handed over today by Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economic Affairs and Digitalization, to Dr. Anke Diehl, Chief Transformation Officer of Essen University Hospital, and Prof. Dr. Stefan Wrobel, Director of Fraunhofer IAIS.

Digital technologies offer great opportunities for the healthcare sector. The constantly growing amount of medical data makes it possible to develop intelligent and personalized applications for early health detection, diagnostics, treatment and follow-up care. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems in particular hold enormous potential to treat patients better, relieve staff and make processes more efficient – especially in the face of unforeseen challenges such as the current pandemic. SmartHospital.NRW will leverage this potential and make it available to hospitals in NRW.

One goal is to develop a transferrable 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 for this. 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.

With the establishment of a showroom at the University Medical Center Essen, the developed applications will be presented to a professional public and their clinical application possibilities will be evaluated with representatives of other hospitals. Knowledge transfer is a central concern of SmartHospital.NRW:

»With our partners, we are not only creating the technical prerequisites for the smart hospital, where we can thus further improve care for patients. We are also developing a customizable roadmap so that the leap into the AI era can succeed across the entire industry,« says Dr. Anke Diehl, Chief Transformation Officer at Essen University Hospital.

The AI-based applications for this project are being developed under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS.

»Fraunhofer IAIS is contributing its many years of experience in the development of AI technologies to work with strong partners to test trustworthy and robust applications for real-world use scenarios in the smart hospital,« says Prof. Dr. Stefan Wrobel, Institute Director at Fraunhofer IAIS.

As patron, the Competence Platform for Artificial Intelligence North Rhine-Westphalia KI.NRW includes the SmartHospital.NRW project in its Flagship Initiative. KI.NRW supports highly innovative and application-oriented AI projects funded by the state with high social relevance under the slogan »Flagships powered by KI.NRW« and thus helps to make pioneering projects visible beyond the state borders.

»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,« says Dr. Christian Temath, Managing Director of KI.NRW.

Parallel to SmartHospital.NRW, the flagship project »Certified AI« also officially begins its work. Experts are developing test procedures that can serve as a basis for technical standards and norms for AI systems. An AI certification based on this can contribute to building trust in the use of AI, especially in the healthcare sector. Another new project in the flagship initiative is »bergisch.smart_mobility«, in which numerous partners are working together on concepts for the mobility of the future.

Further information on the KI.NRW Flagships and the individual projects can be found on our section »Flagships«.