SAP Watch

May 4 2015   2:25PM GMT

For SAP workers with tumors, HANA becomes part of the treatment team

Scott Wallask Scott Wallask Profile: Scott Wallask

Human Resources

Heading into SAP Sapphire this week, I legitimately feel good about the company. It’s not because of earnings or technology advancements or any of that business mumbo-jumbo; it’s simply because SAP is offering new-found support for a small amount of its employee who are going through a big crisis.

Since last year, SAP has used HANA to help workers who are fighting solid-tumor cancers as a free healthcare benefit. I had a chance to sit down recently with Torsten Paul, who is involved with SAP’s global health management programs, to discuss the initiative.

SapphireSAP’s Corporate Oncology Program for Employees, or COPE, comes through a partnership with MolecularHealth, a German company that develops and produces software to analyze genomic data of patients. The company is financed through a firm associated with former SAP CEO and founded Dietmar Hopp.

Cancer treatment is at the forefront of precision medicine — a healthcare approach that aims to customize treatment using data and human genomics. Because cancers vary greatly person to person, it only makes sense that therapies should also tailor themselves to the patients.

MolecularHealth uses HANA to sequence a DNA sample of the patient’s tumor and compare it to a sample of the person’s normal tissue. In less than 20 minutes, that employee has a personalized treatment plan to bring to their oncologist or treating physician, Paul told me at the HIMSS 2015 conference in Chicago.

“It’s a mandate to care for people,” Paul said of the program. That might sound like corporate hype, but in talking to Paul after the interview ended and seeing the spark in his eyes, for him, the COPE initiative is an altruistic approach to employee wellness. “It makes work [relationships] even better, which is what we want.”

Less than 100 SAP workers in the U.S. and Germany are part of COPE — Paul wouldn’t give exact numbers — but he eventually expects from 2% to 5% of SAP’s 74,500 employees will receive diagnoses of solid tumors.

So as we wander through Sapphire in Orlando and get caught up in the glitz of the trade show, anticipate J. Lo’s concert, and maybe even visit Mickey Mouse in Fantasyland, remember that in some oncology ward somewhere, an employee has HANA results in hand that might — with medical science and a little bit of good fortune riding along — turn the tide of a cancer battle.

Scott Wallask is news director for the Business Applications and Health IT groups at TechTarget. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_HighTech.

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