To align with its commitment to providing innovative healthcare solutions in a highly competitive industry, Spaarne Ziekenhuis needed to upgrade its content management infrastructure. The organization had built its corporate website on open-source technology, but this platform was costly to maintain and difficult to extend. To ease the burden on internal IT staff and better contain technology costs, executives decided to consolidate the web and enterprise content management infrastructure on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. In August 2010, Spaarne Ziekenhuis launched its new website, which includes accessibility features, rich media content, and other interactive design elements. Now, with a reduced IT maintenance burden and more agile information management capabilities, Spaarne Ziekenhuis has the tools it needs to expand its competitive advantage.
is a full-service medical center based in Hoofddorp, southwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It has 1,880 employees and manages an average patient load of 18,000 individuals across two different locations.
The hospital prides itself on its commitment to innovation and operational efficiency. In fact, it was one of the first healthcare systems in the Netherlands to adopt electronic medical records (EMR) technology to give doctors and nurses fast, reliable access to patient information from remote locations. The organization uses EMR software from Epic to track patient visits, diagnoses, and prescription information.
||At last, with SharePoint Server 2010, we have found the technology that fully supports our commitment to innovation and to always putting the patient first.
Communications Director, Spaarne Ziekenhuis
In line with its track record of innovation, and in response to persistently tough economic conditions, executives have emphasized the need to consolidate IT systems and streamline management of key information resources. This includes patient records and protocol summaries for every medical procedure that the hospital performs, as well as information about hospital initiatives and ongoing projects. Need for Easy-to-Use Intranet Tools
In 2006, Spaarne Ziekenhuis adopted Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as the sole repository for more than 10,000 protocol documents. As the business grew, IT management searched for a way to support increasingly complex workflows. Most departments relied on paper-based processes, and employees throughout the organization routinely turned to IT staff for help in creating new sites or adding content to existing pages. “The current set of site design tools were not as intuitive as we’d hoped, so people came to us every time they wanted to make a change, which impacted our ability to respond to other IT service requests,” says Pauline Schömbs, Information and Communications Technology Manager at Spaarne Ziekenhuis.
Mandate for More Compelling and Accessible Website Content
In addition to the need to improve its intranet, the hospital wanted to restructure its public website, which it built using open-source technology. “Our site gave us a presence on the web, but it did not adequately communicate our identity as one of the most modern hospitals in the country. Second, we want to appeal to our patients and visitors as the top priority of our hospital, with employees who really care about them,” says Petra Timmer, Communications Director at Spaarne Ziekenhuis. “One of the ways we wanted to showcase our expertise was by creating a more visually compelling and satisfying experience for visitors on our public-facing site.”
Timmer and her team identified several areas for improvement. First, they needed to make it easier for members of the hospital’s communications team to manage and publish content to the site themselves. Due to the complexity of the hospital’s former website infrastructure, IT personnel typically had to help employees refresh site content, which meant that the communications team only updated news items and made other changes twice a week.
Second, Spaarne Ziekenhuis made it a priority to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. “As a hospital system, it was critical that our new site design meet the latest accessibility guidelines for everything from font resizing to interoperability with all major browsers,” says Timmer. “This requirement fits with our goal to connect members of the community to the information they need—all in one place—so that they can make informed medical care decisions for themselves and their loved ones.” Finally, to further differentiate Spaarne Ziekenhuis from competing hospitals, executives wanted to deliver a more interactive experience on its website.
To ease the organization’s IT maintenance burden, improve information management, and strengthen its marketing communications platform, executives were eager to link enterprise and web content management capabilities in a single system.Solution
In early 2010, leaders at Spaarne Ziekenhuis seized an opportunity to implement a single infrastructure for all of its business sites by choosing to upgrade to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
. “The more we evaluated the new capabilities of SharePoint Server 2010, particularly in the areas of content management
, site creation
, and search
, the more interested we became,” says Schömbs. “From an operations perspective, the ability to use the same technology to build out our intranet and deliver a first-class website was very exciting. It was exactly what we’d been looking for.”
||I was amazed at how easy it was to incorporate advanced accessibility functionality into the site by using built-in capabilities in SharePoint Server 2010.
SharePoint MVP and Solutions Architect, Mavention
Spaarne Ziekenhuis engaged with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Mavention
for help in deploying the solution. The first phase of the project focused on the development of a new corporate website. Executives planned to work with the Mavention team to create new workflows
and map existing business applications to SharePoint Server 2010. “In terms of the goals that Spaarne Ziekenhuis wanted to achieve, particularly in improving its website, the timing of the upgrade was perfect,” says Waldek Mastykarz, SharePoint MVP and Solutions Architect at Mavention. “The improvements to the sites capabilities in SharePoint Server 2010, such as accessibility compliance
, support for multimedia
, metadata management
, and overall ease of use, are impressive.” Compliance with Accessibility Standards
In August 2010, the hospital launched its new website on SharePoint Server 2010. The site incorporates several new features that had been too costly to develop using its former web technology infrastructure. For example, building on support in the solution for WCAG 2.0 specifications, the Mavention team quickly incorporated such accessibility functionality as adaptive font-size scaling for website visitors who are visually impaired.
Because SharePoint Server 2010 supports discovery of user interface components through the use of semantic web technologies, the Mavention team was able to connect a third-party content reader application called ReadSpeaker to the content database. When activated, the ReadSpeaker application automatically converts all text to speech. “I was amazed at how easy it was to incorporate advanced accessibility functionality into the site by using built-in capabilities in SharePoint Server 2010,” says Mastykarz. Interactive, Relevant Web Experience
In revamping its website, the hospital wanted to deliver a more interactive and satisfying user experience. Mastykarz helped the organization incorporate rich media assets throughout the site. For example, on the home page, visitors can interact with a rich Internet application—delivered through the Microsoft Silverlight 4
cross-browser plug-in—which lets them browse a series of stylized patient testimonials. Timmer and her staff take advantage of enhanced metadata management to quickly locate the images and corresponding contextual information for each testimonial in the content management system. They then use the enhanced Web Parts interface in SharePoint Server 2010 to upload content to the website and prepare it for publication. Her team uses a similar process for managing other types of content, including news items and announcements of upcoming events.
Because the communications team ensures that all content is optimally tagged by using the flexible taxonomy tools in SharePoint Server 2010, visitors can more easily search site content. “In beta testing before we launched the site, we found that search functionality was greatly improved compared to our previous site,” says Timmer. “Results were returned faster and they were more relevant to the search queries.” Timmer’s team is still collecting quantitative data on improved search speed, but she has already received considerable positive feedback from visitors. Dynamic Creation of Web Forms
Spaarne Ziekenhuis also wanted to infuse its site with tools for helping members of the community stay better connected to the hospital and to each other. For example, it wanted to enable people to register for educational events sponsored by the hospital, or to solicit feedback on the hospital’s performance through the website.
Previously, Timmer needed to submit a request to the IT team to create a web form to enable this kind of functionality. The process was time consuming and hampered innovation. Her team now takes advantage of the ability to automatically generate accessible forms based on list views in SharePoint Server 2010.
Content editors create a list, configure a list view, and then map the list view to a custom-designed Web Part for upload to the website. Spaarne Ziekenhuis has used its ability to rapidly create web forms to provide opportunities for members of the community to interact.
As illustrated in Figure 1, friends and family members can send an electronic greeting card to a patient at any Spaarne Ziekenhuis facility by selecting a template and completing a simple form on the organization’s website.
|Figure 1. Spaarne Ziekenhuis uses its enhanced ability to quickly |
create and publish web forms to help people stay better connected.
Platform for Connecting Business Processes and Systems
Spaarne Ziekenhuis uses the enhanced support in the solution for creating and configuring workflows
to streamline business processes. Schömbs appreciates the seamless interoperability between Microsoft Visio 2010 drawing and diagramming software and SharePoint Server 2010. She can use Visio 2010 to design new workflow models and then use Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 to configure them for use across the hospital’s intranet. Schömbs and her team are developing a workflow to automate fulfillment of IT service requests, a process that used to be handled through a combination of paper-based forms and email messages.
“The simplified workflow tools will give managers in other departments greater control in streamlining their own processes, too, which will give our team more time to handle other tasks,” says Schömbs.
In addition to standardizing and automating processes through the use of workflows, the organization will use Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint Server 2010 to link data from critical business applications to the organization’s intranet sites. For example, Spaarne Ziekenhuis plans to connect its Epic EMR system to the database in SharePoint Server 2010, which will give care providers a single, centralized resource for viewing patient data alongside hospital protocol information.
||Our decision process in responding to requests for new software is much simpler now. If it can’t be handled either in our EMR system or in SharePoint Server, we can legitimately ask ourselves: do we really need it?
Information and Communication Technology Manager, Spaarne Ziekenhuis
By consolidating all of its business sites on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Spaarne Ziekenhuis benefits from more agile information management. With easy-to-use tools for creating, publishing, and sharing content across the internal and external sites, employees throughout the organization can help drive efficiency in ways that were not possible with the former infrastructure.
Greater Capacity for Innovation
Spaarne Ziekenhuis has a long history of innovation. Now, through the use of SharePoint Server 2010, the organization can extend that innovation to the areas of information and communications management. For example, its new website incorporates WCAG 2.0 accessibility compliance, rich media elements, advanced search capabilities, and a number of other interactive features. Through its new site, Spaarne Ziekenhuis provides a compelling web experience that sets its brand apart from other hospital systems in the Netherlands.
By using Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint Server 2010, Spaarne Ziekenhuis will be able to connect its EMR system to its internal communications and collaboration platform. With streamlined access to patient records alongside hospital treatment and procedure guidelines, medical professionals can provide more responsive and personalized care to each individual. “At last, with SharePoint Server 2010, we have found the technology that fully supports our commitment to innovation and to always putting the patient first,” says Timmer.
Increased Efficiency of Content Management Tasks
By taking advantage of enhanced metadata management capabilities and easy-to-configure Web Parts in SharePoint Server 2010, Timmer’s team now spends substantially less time than it did previously in locating, staging, and publishing content to the website. “It used to take several hours to make a small change to one of the site pages,” says Timmer. “In many cases, we needed to involve our IT team to complete updates to content. Now, we can make most changes in a matter of minutes, and we can do them ourselves, without bothering IT.” This increase in process efficiency gives the communications team the flexibility to update website content daily, rather than just a few times a week as it had done previously.
Reduced IT Maintenance Burden
Because departments throughout Spaarne Ziekenhuis are able to be more self-sufficient by using SharePoint Server 2010, the IT team spends less time responding to individual service requests. This gives the team more time to focus on advancing larger, strategic initiatives, such as the planned integration of the hospital’s EMR software with SharePoint Server 2010.
Executives also anticipate significant incremental cost savings based on the use of a consolidated content management and collaboration infrastructure. “SharePoint Server eliminates the need for us to go out and purchase, maintain, and upgrade a number of different point solutions,” says Schömbs. “Our decision process in responding to requests for new software is much simpler now. If it can’t be handled either in our EMR system or in SharePoint Server, we can legitimately ask ourselves: do we really need it?” Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is the business collaboration platform for the Enterprise and the Internet.
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