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Customer Snapshot: Overview

3.6 Million data points in 150,000 data sets

Prevention, early diagnosis, and personalized treatment greatly improve the long-term outcomes for people who are at risk for or have cancer. Through user research, diagnostic methods, and therapies powered by the SAP HANA platform, NCT helps save, extend, and enhance the quality of thousands of patient lives every year.

National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT)

Customer Website

Implementation Partners
SAP Consulting, SAP Innovation Center, Design and Co-Innovation Center from SAP

Higher Education & Research

Heidelberg, Germany

Number of Employees

Line of Business
Plaform and Technology, Information Technology, Service

SAP Solutions

Customer Snapshot: History

Building Bridges Between Cancer Research and Treatment

Customer Snapshot: Business Model

Focus on Cancer Research

NCT is supported by the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg University Hospital, and German Cancer Aid, the nation’s leading source of nongovernment funds for cancer research. The three organizations secure funding and support NCT with infrastructure, resources, and expertise that enable NCT professionals to effectively conduct cancer research, promote cancer prevention, and deliver patient care.

Customer Snapshot: Success Strategy

Uniquely Treating Patients

NCT promotes an interdisciplinary approach to cancer research, treatment, and prevention that focuses on the unique needs of each patient. NCT’s goal is to provide each patient with a genetic and molecular analysis based on the latest medical and research data available and use it to guide clinicians in the individualized diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Treating each person at their unique molecular profile.

The Challenge

Complex Diseases Need Complex Analysis

Cancer is actually the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases, and each of these diseases can behave very differently. For instance, lung cancer and skin cancer grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. This is why people with cancer need treatment tailored to their circumstances.


To rapidly develop cancer therapies at the individual patient level, NCT needs to analyze large amounts of clinical and research data in real time. But medical staff needed to search multiple databases, compile patient lists, print patient files, and manually check if patients matched criteria for clinical trials by reviewing each file individually.

It’s an information problem…

Enter SAP

Co-Innovation to Heal

NCT approached SAP to develop a tool to make it easier and more efficient for endusers – including doctors, researchers, study planners, and other medical staff – to do their work. As two of Germany’s leaders in their respective industries, NCT and SAP agreed to co-innovate a solution that would allow users to filter and group patients according to different attributes. The goal was to combine patient data from multiple sources, such as clinical information systems, tumor registries, biobank systems, and even text documents like physicians’ notes, and then provide a comprehensive overview of each patient’s medical history in a graphical timeline.

Overall, they aimed to eliminate unnecessary manual processes and reduce the back and forth required between medical staff and the IT department to access important data.

With a diverse background in business strategy and technical expertise as well as product development and the user experience (UX) design process, the experts at SAP sought to resolve these complicated process issues. Developing a simplified and user-friendly digital experience was only half of the process – the other half entailed designing the tool with the UX in mind.

Enter SAP: The SAP Experience

Six Weeks to Superior Care

The Design and Co-Innovation Center team at SAP first embarked on the project by interviewing physicians, researchers, and study nurses to understand their needs. They developed an understanding of patient data and associated terminology and prioritized the must-have requirements of the tool: fast access to patient data, easy comparison of patient profiles, and robust search capabilities.


The design team subsequently iterated on a simple and fit-for-purpose design that provides a single entry point to the data and requires fewer clicks to get to the information needed. The development team at SAP Innovation Center worked alongside the UX design team, implementing the core functions in parallel.

Finally, working with the SAP Consulting organization, NCT engaged in a proof-of-concept (POC) called project “Medical Research Insights” powered by SAP HANA. The goal was to show how the co-innovation solution would enable NCT to analyze data from various sources and provide information to clinicians. The POC, which was completed in just six weeks, enabled fast, ad hoc reporting from a centralized data warehouse of structured and unstructured data. The result was greater insight for clinicians and superior care for patients.

The daily usability factor.

Better Business

Analyzing Patient Data in Real Time

NCT uses more than 15,000 protocols to treat more than 10,000 patients annually, and a single patient may have up to 1,200 unique data elements in his or her records. Through “Medical Research Insights” powered by SAP HANA, analysis that would have taken weeks to complete in the past, is now finished in just minutes.


The early-adoption solution allows medical staff to visualize and analyze patient data in real time. Plus staff can search and filter multiple data sources through a single interface. This provides a holistic view of each patient’s medical history in a graphical timeline. Faster and easier access to patient data improves the matching of patients to clinical trials, which can mean conquering cancer faster and returning to good health.


''Medical Research Insights'' was one of two SAP projects recognized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as ''inspiring collaborations.'' It also received a Strategy & Research Professional Notable for the Core77 Design Awards and won the 2014/2015 German Design Award under Excellent Communications Design - Interactive User Experience"

Bringing cancer research and treatment together.

Proving the value of research and feedback.

Better Business: Benefits

Supporting Treatment Delivery and Discovery

SAP HANA provides oncologists at NCT with a quick overview of cancer types and treatments by immediately establishing a protocol that is tailored to each patient’s specific genetic profile. Plus, the SAP HANA platform helps support ongoing patient care with detailed, illustrated timelines of treatment activities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and home health visits. These design choices reflect the integration of both technical expertise and UX design into the final product. 


For example, staff can search and filter multiple data sources through a single interface. This provides a holistic view of every patient’s medical history in a graphical timeline. For expert users, data is accessed using a context-based intelligent search bar. For occasional users, there is menu-based access to data. This innovative solution saves physicians time, helping them spend more of their day on patient care and less of it on paperwork.

SAP HANA is a valuable daily tool.


On the research side, “Medical Research Insights” helps match patients to clinical studies based on criteria such as diagnosis and treatment needs. Such capabilities can help drive cancer treatment forward by quickly identifying patients who don’t respond to standard protocols and directing them into studies on new treatments that show promise for their types of cancer.

Finding the pieces of the puzzle.

Better Business: Run Simple


Healing Without Side Effects

Individualized remedies are already benefitting patients who come to NCT. For example, targeted therapies can help minimize patient exposure to unnecessary treatments that may have undesirable side effects. Additionally, studies and trials supported by SAP solutions are expected to help identify new ways to diagnose and treat cancer.

Elfriede Kramer, Breast Cancer Patient.

Journey Ahead

Harnessing Data at Every Step in the Patient Journey

NCT and SAP plan to continue their collaboration using the SAP HANA platform to support patient data analysis. Ultimately, NCT wants to use real-time data analysis to support every diagnostic and therapeutic step in the hopes that it will improve the lives and futures of people who suffer from cancer.

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