Gruppo San Donato (GSD): A Holistic View of Patient’s Well-being

gruppo san donato
Francesco Galli | CEO | Gruppo San Donato – GSD

A patient at the hospital reaches out to the drug store, looking for a cure for his aching body. However, s/he ends up receiving the wrong drug. Perhaps it was due to a mistake of not identifying the right package.”

This story sounds familiar and has been heard in many stories across media houses and the medical fraternity. Right?

If yes, it is important to know the recent trend experienced by patients.

Patients in recent times have grown vulnerable to failure with the rising complexity of healthcare systems. Despite the existing facilities, there is a lack of communication and involvement in patients’ care.

Hence, in an era of rising misunderstandings, Gruppo San Donato (GSD) is a leading healthcare system that has managed to stand out from the competition. Located in Italy, a place that lacks nothing with regard to care, GSD is one step further. It not only offers diagnosis and treatment but is also considerate of patients’ overall well-being.

It is essential to treat pathology while aiming for patients’ well-being. What’s important to the patient’s eyes is what we truly perceive,” says the GSD team.

We crossed paths with Francesco Galli, the CEO and President of the GSD Strategy & Operations Committee, to dive into the operations that ensure the longevity of GSD’s leading position in the healthcare sector.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please brief us about your hospital and its inception story.

Founded in 1957, Gruppo San Donato (GSD) is the largest hospital group in Italy and one of the most important in Europe. With its 56 facilities and more than 7,000 medical specialists, Gruppo San Donato treats around 4 million patients a year. It includes three of the country’s most important research institutes: San Raffaele Hospital (Molecular Medicine), San Donato Hospital (Cardiovascular Diseases), and Galeazzi Hospital (Orthopaedic Diseases).

What are the key services provided at your hospital, and how is it impacting the demographic concerned? 

With about 14,500,000 annual procedures and 3,239 scientific publications in 2021, GSD is a multi-specialty group with some of the greatest specialties recognized worldwide for their clinical and scientific research.

In the field of Oncology and Hematology, each year at San Raffaele Hospital, the largest hospital in the group, there are about 9,000 hospitalizations for causes related to cancer (about 17.2% of total hospitalizations) and 6,000 oncological surgeries (30% of the total). The hospital is also the Italian reference point for bone marrow transplantation.

With regards to the Cardiovascular area, the group is an internationally renowned reference center for minimally invasive surgical treatment of heart disease, with  34% of cardiac surgery admissions in Lombardy. It also counts as a highly specialized center of excellence for the surgical treatment of the most important vascular pathologies. Another point of excellence is Orthopedics treatments. The center has the largest number of orthopedic admissions in Lombardy. With its 12,545 hip and knee prosthesis operations per year and 3,693 spine operations per year (2017), it is a reference center for locomotor system diseases.  In the specialty of Ophthalmology, the Ophthalmology Center is recognized by the International Council of Ophthalmology as a clinical and diagnostic reference structure. High experience and specialization feature bariatric surgery activity, for which the Group Reference Center in Italy for the diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment of obesity. In the urologic area, the group represents an internationally recognized center for the treatment of prostatic hypertrophy, sexual dysfunction, and male reproduction.

Particular attention is reserved for Reproductive Medicine (Fertility Center), with a reference center in Europe that uses innovative techniques in medically assisted procreation. Last but not least, the San Raffaele Hospital is a center of clinical and research excellence in the fields of Neuroscience and Neurorehabilitation, neurosurgery, neurology, and neurological rehabilitation. Research particularly focuses on neurodegenerative diseases, neuromuscular diseases, and cerebrovascular diseases.

According to Bloomberg indexes (2019), Italy is recognized as the second healthiest country in the world, with the fourth most efficient healthcare system globally.

What are the core values of your organization? What is its mission and vision statement?

The main value of GSD, strongly inscribed in its DNA, is humanity. GSD conducts its activities focusing on the well-being of the individual. All care pathways have been thought upon, considering everyone as a complex entity made up of feelings, personal experiences, and cultural heritage.

The group pays close attention to current issues to be a major player in building tomorrow’s healthcare. Therefore, the values of Innovation and Sustainability are at the forefront of its mission and vision.

GSD wants to create excellent healthcare with great accessibility for everyone. It wants to enable everyone to have access to care using technology at the service of this goal. GSD wants to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable world.

Could you elaborate on what makes your hospital unique that attracts such a large customer base?

The uniqueness of the GSD is due to two main points of excellence.

First of all, each high clinical specialty is continuously developed and optimized by clinical and scientific research that enables a high level of care, making even the most innovative treatments accessible to the patient. Besides, each complex care pathway is structured in a multidisciplinary way. People affected by multifactorial diseases have many things in common, and their treatment requires dedication, professionalism, innovation, and humanity.

The approach to these diseases is successful when all the professionals involved act in a coordinated way, without losing sight of the uniqueness of the individual.” A complex care pathway is organized by a patient manager who supports the patient throughout his or her treatment. In addition to the specialist doctor and his team, the treatment path also includes a nutritionist, a psychologist, and a physiotherapist. The designed pathways are oriented towards a holistic view of the patient.

How are you incorporating emerging technology solutions to enhance infrastructural qualities as well as the hospital’s offering to chart its growth upwards? 

GSD is using new technologies to improve the service of medicine on the one hand and care for patients on the other hand. Smart Hospitals are the model that GSD aims for, where the adoption of tools and technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Telemedicine, Wearables, and other related) will revolutionize hospital concepts and care pathways.

The GSD ICT Department has delivered three infrastructure projects whose role is fundamental.

  • The first one is creating an interconnection system capable of connecting our 60+ locations with the redundancy of physical routes to guarantee maximum resilience and continuity in data transmission in order to consolidate over a unique network infrastructure. “Smart Life,” wide processes, wide solutions, competence center merging, converging infrastructures, interoperability paradigms, and taking care of people’s health are our crucial goals.
  • The second infrastructure project concerns the realization of a new infrastructure architecture with infrastructural business continuity features, geographically distributed over two production data centers and a third “data protection site,” implementing disaster recovery practices, supporting the required workloads, storing large amounts of data, and delivering high value-added services.
  • Furthermore,complete coverage of all hospital facilities with a Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth Beacon devices is available to enable the mobile usage of clinical applications and provide services such as asset tracking, indoor/outdoor navigation, wayfinding, and other related.

On the high-tech front in medicine, GSD represents excellence in the use of robotic surgery, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy, and diagnostic imaging. GSD also developed its own telemedicine service in order to allow its patients to interface with doctors even during the pandemic.

As an experienced leader, what advice would you like to give aspiring entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into such a competitive industry that you are serving?

As I always tell my closest collaborators, to do the job, you must first have a great passion and a lot of curiosity. Never get tired of asking questions, looking for innovative solutions, even putting yourself in the patient’s shoes, and learning to look at things as a whole without ever losing sight of the attention to detail.

Healthcare is a complex world that requires a lot of patience and determination. The dynamics are often many and varied, and experience teaches the right balance. Churchill said that, beyond successes and failures, it is the courage to move forward that counts!

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