Amid health-care crunch, AI applications add flexibility and provide more time for patients

From paper sheets to AI tools 

Hospitals and clinics are using AI in innovative ways to cut time spent on administrative tasks and increase time for treating patients.

The story of how the AI scheduling app came into being involves some forward-thinking hospital executives, a Swiss company that specializes in health-care scheduling software, the staff at LUKS, Microsoft technology experts and Andri Puorger, a Microsoft Switzerland Account Technology Strategist for Healthcare. 

Puorger became interested in working in the field of health care from his partner, a station lead in the intensive care unit at a Zurich hospital. From her, he learned about the shortage of nurses, the difficulties in retaining them because of the heavy workload and the outdated way many hospitals schedule staff.

“I said ‘it can’t be that you work like this,’” he says, “I didn’t understand why a station lead has to invest three to five days a month for planning while, with the help of technology, it could be done much more efficiently.” He knew about a Swiss company, Polypoint, that specializes in health-care scheduling software, and wondered if a collaboration could deliver something faster and more efficient.   

Thomas Buerdel, the Head of Innovation at Polypoint, recalls the early conversations with Puorger and Senior Program Manager Teams Paul Cherbin.  

“We had quite a few questions in our minds,” Buerdel says. “We have about 90 employees, and yes, we have about 1,000 customers in healthcare, but we are not that big.”   

Andri Puorger, left, Account Technology Strategist for Healthcare, Microsoft, and Thomas Buerdel, right, Head of Innovation, Polypoint AG.

Puorger reassured Buerdel that Microsoft recognized that Polypoint had a depth of knowledge in Swiss laws and regulations, the peculiarities of the Swiss health-care system and 36 years of experience.   

Puorger proposed that Microsoft could help Polypoint reach more clients if its system, which uses AI to calculate the best outcomes in complex schedules, was available in a Teams app, making it accessible to anyone on hospital staff with a smartphone.  

“I thought we could make a huge impact working together,” Puorger recalls. “So I asked LUKS and I asked Polypoint if we could bring this idea together, and they both said yes. I thought it could be a win-win-win situation.”  

Buerdel says that that Microsoft’s respect for Polypoint’s expertise in the field led to an atmosphere of trust. “At that point the sentiment changed,” he says. “The collaboration with Microsoft is quite cool, and it helps us as a small company to have a little bit of awareness, and it’s a positive impact on our image, too.”

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