A glimpse into the future: How HARTMANN improves healthcare with digital solutions

How can we ensure better patient care and make the healthcare sector more efficient? Since 2020, the Digital Business team at HARTMANN has been dedicated to these questions. By collecting and analyzing data, developing new digital applications, and working closely with customers, Digital Business aims to provide solutions that improve the lives of patients and make work easier for healthcare professionals. In this interview, Chief Digital Officer Lüder Sachse gives an insight into the work of the Digital Business team and reveals how the team has developed over the last three years since its foundation.

Mr. Sachse, why do we need digital solutions in the health sector?

Like many other areas of our lives, the healthcare industry is increasingly affected by digitalization. The care sector is a good example for this development. Due to the shortage of skilled workers, caregivers have less and less time to look after their patients. This is where digital applications can change things for the better. With our solutions, we want to make the health system more efficient, while continuing to live up to our claim of providing high-quality medical care.

The NosoEx allows hospitals to better monitor hand hygiene.

Digital Business has launched at HARTMANN just over three years ago. What was the vision back then?

Of course, digitalization was already a topic at HARTMANN before 2020. At that time, however, it was still mainly about e-commerce. But Digital Business is about much more than that. We in Digital Business see ourselves as a solution provider. Our work goes beyond selling existing products via online channels. It’s rather about creating added value for our customers with new digital business models and innovations, such as apps for scanning wounds or smart monitoring solutions. That's why, three years ago, we wanted to create a basis for being able to quickly develop new ideas and bring them to market. This is the base of our whole concept. Our venture architects in particular play a big role in this. They’re responsible end to end for certain ideas and products and fight hard to realize them, just like the CEO of a startup.

Our biggest success recently was the launch of NosoEx, a digital tool for tracking and recording hand disinfection. This digital solution significantly improves hygiene in hospitals and prevents nosocomial infections.

How does this work in practice? How do initial ideas become real applications?

It all starts with an internal innovation process, with the venture architects at the center. They take on the entrepreneurial responsibility for individual ideas and push them through the various levels of the company. I always compare this to the phase in which a startup tries to find the right investors. The venture architects must lead a series of pitches to present the idea and show how it can be monetarized.

Who is the team behind such ideas and applications?

Our core team consists of about a dozen people, primarily venture architects and strategic designers. But there are also a few other team members who deal with digital business models in individual countries. And recently, we were able to establish a development team in our Digital Hub in Barcelona.

How has the team developed over the past three years?

When we started Digital Business, I was alone for the first few months. Only gradually did I get employees. I remember that our very first pitch was rejected. It was introducing an online platform for the placement of care workers. We were told that the idea was too far removed from HARTMANN´s vision. But we learned from our failure. After the rejection, we revised the idea again and improved it with regard to customer needs. Two years later, we are now working again on this idea to solve the underlying problems. In all this, we are always in exchange with other areas and divisions of HARTMANN, which support us with their technical expertise. This way, we can use the skills of the entire organization.

You also rely heavily on agile methods and entrepreneurial thinking. How does that manifest itself in your everyday work?

For our software development, we use methods like SCRUM, and work with sprints. And of course, agile work is also about mindset: we act according to the motto "fail fast and learn fast". Meaning: We don't spend a lot of time trying out ideas on a theoretical level, but we build and test things early so we can make progress quickly.

Team members of Digital Business brainstorm new ideas and learn new skills in the process.

Do you have a vision for the next three years?

In the health industry, the trend is moving toward home care. This will be an important focus area for us in the future. We want to play a central role in helping people to live independently at home for as long as possible. But we also want to remain present in the hospital sector. Our goal is to be perceived as the expert when it comes to topics like hygiene and infection prevention. As a solution provider, we want to help hospitals tackle these problems – be it with products such as Sterillium or smart disinfectant dispensers.

About Lüder Sachse, Chief Digital Officer at HARTMANN

As Chief Digital Officer at HARTMANN, Lüder Sachse is responsible for the Global Digital Business of the company, including developing digital solutions and finding new digital business models. After studying technically oriented business administration at the University of Stuttgart, Lüder was active for a long time at Daimler, where he was initially in charge of information and cyber security before becoming the head of a digital incubator for logistics products and services.
Lüder Sachse is responsible for the Global Digital Business of HARTMANN.

The Digital Business team at a glance:

  • Foundation: 2020
  • Team members: 16
  • Digital Hubs: Hamburg, Stuttgart, Schaffhausen, Barcelona
  • Customers: hospitals, nursing homes, caregivers, people in need of care
  • Mission: Identify ideas and develop new digital business models for HARTMANN.