How SAP S/4HANA boosts the financial health of AZ Delta hospital

Oct 25, 2021
  • finance
  • IT
  • healthcare
  • SAP

Offering high-quality patient care takes more than talented doctors and nurses, high-tech medical devices, and state-of-the-art facilities. Well-functioning back-office processes – not to mention financial processes – are quintessential too. To streamline workflows, cut costs, boost compliance, and thrive in today’s digital era, AZ Delta switched to one single, integrated ERP system: SAP S/4HANA.

How can you manage and future-proof a hospital group with 4,000 employees that provides 650,000 consultations and 50,000 surgical procedures per year – all on tight budgets? By working in a superefficient way and remaining financially sound! But when you’re juggling a plethora of IT systems and data is scattered across the organization that can be quite a challenge.

Lack of data consistency

“Being a financially healthy hospital is one of our strategic objectives at AZ Delta,” says Rebecca Puissant, CFO at AZ Delta. ”To boost control and transparency, we needed a single, reliable data source that would provide access to real-time, consistent data.”

AZ Delta decided to integrate processes and data by adopting one single information and management system for all their back-office processes: SAP S/4HANA. The hospital’s move to a brand-new main campus in Roeselare reinforced the decision to implement SAP, explains Rebecca: “The relocation to the new building urged us to make adjustments to our existing IT packages and systems. It was only logical to transition to SAP before doing that – even though it was challenging, of course, to combine the move to a new building and to a new ERP platform – in the midst of the corona pandemic even.” 

Integration to speed up invoicing

AZ Delta chose a phased implementation to facilitate the transition, starting with several purchasing- and warehouse-related features. In phase 2, in early 2021, Accounting and Accounts Receivable went live, as did the interfaces and integrations with specific IT systems. 

Lander Vanmeenen, finance lead for the AZ Delta project at delaware, illustrates how the integration of data now speeds up invoicing at AZ Delta: “Hospital billing is an exceptionally complex process. The patient invoice, for one, is very detailed, as it lists every medicine, treatment, meal and service provided. Moreover, healthcare costs are shared between the patient and the health insurance fund. That means that hospitals also bill health insurance funds. AZ Delta uses dedicated systems for invoicing to both parties, yet these are now seamlessly integrated into SAP S/4HANA. That means that all the data of outgoing invoices is aggregated and centralized, as are the details of incoming invoices.”

as SAP S/4HANA automates the approval flow, we win time and cut costs, while we’ve stepped up risk control 
Rik Vanhaelemeesch, finance manager AZ Delta

Automatic approvals  

“SAP S/4HANA automatically matches incoming payments and open invoices and follows up on payments. In the future, it will even send reminders for open invoices,” Lander continues. “In addition, all purchase invoices are easily scanned, automatically checked, booked, and paid. If the ERP system spots anomalies, either in incoming invoices or in payments, it notifies the accounting team.” 

Rik Vanhaelemeesch, finance manager, confirms that the integration leads to significant efficiency gains. “Moreover, it has helped us introduce the four-eyes control principle, meaning that every purchase order must be approved by at least two persons. As SAP S/4HANA automates the approval flow, we win time and cut costs while improving risk control.” 

Transparency, reporting and compliance 

The switch to the new hospital-wide ERP system also ensures more transparency in financial processes. “Data centralization makes inefficiencies more visible, both for the finance team and for the budget responsible in every department,” explains Wim Vermeire, healthcare industry expert and project leader at delaware. “As departments now have access to a common source of real-time, trusted data and results, they can easily spot areas of poor performance and identify cost reduction opportunities. Cost awareness has increased significantly now that SAP is up and running.” 

Last but definitely not least, AZ Delta believes that SAP S/4HANA will greatly improve financial reporting, since the finance team will be able to report on a much wider range of financial KPIs, both to the hospital management and to the authorities. 

the more our back-office processes are integrated and our data is centralized, the better we can manage, control and improve our financial health
Rebecca Puissant, CFO AZ Delta

Future-proofing the organization

“The more our back-office processes are integrated and our data is centralized, the better we can manage, control, and improve our financial health. Of course, ERP is a never ending story and we’re full of plans to further extend the system. Yet, today we can already unanimously say that SAP has really helped us take finance operations to the next level and future-proof our organization,” Rebecca concludes.

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