4-page Case Study
Posted: 5/27/2011
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The Methodist Hospital System Healthcare System Reduces Time to Find Documents from 15 Minutes to 30 Seconds

The Methodist Hospital System sought an easier way for caregivers to find policies and procedures—and for administrators to manage and revise these documents. With assistance from MEDSEEK, a Microsoft Certified Partner, Methodist deployed a new intranet site based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Navigation and search capabilities are now more intuitive so that caregivers can quickly find what they need. Administrators have easy access to version history, source documents, workflow automation, and reminders when documents are due for review. The Methodist Hospital System took advantage of innovative document management features to implement this new solution for policy and procedure documents quickly and cost-effectively, and it plans to move all documents on its intranet to SharePoint Server 2010.

The Methodist Hospital System is a nonprofit healthcare organization. Affiliated with the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the system consists of the Methodist Hospital and four community hospitals, all of which serve the greater Houston, Texas, area. Methodist Hospital is consistently ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals” list in 13 out of 16 specialties, and FORTUNE magazine has placed The Methodist Hospital System on its annual list of “100 Best Companies To Work For” since 2006.

Since Methodist Hospital first opened its doors in 1919, a legacy of medical milestones has attracted patients from around the world, contributing to the system’s continued growth. In the past few years, that growth has only accelerated. The Methodist Hospital System recently completed more than U.S.$1 billion in expansion projects, including two new imaging centers, a new emergency care center, a new 1.5 million-square-foot outpatient center, and major expansions at two of its community hospitals. The system opened Methodist West Houston, its fifth community hospital, in December 2010.

* The navigation and search capabilities we have today are substantially improved, enabling employees to quickly find the policies and procedures they need. *

Matt Fink
Vice President, Corporate Systems, The Methodist Hospital System

As the Methodist Hospital System has grown, so have the challenges of managing its policies and procedures for the overall system and individual hospitals—including keeping them current and making them readily available to employees who need them. Perhaps nowhere was this pain more acute than for the system’s more than 8,000 nurses and other caregivers who work with patients, who need ready access to more than 800 policies and procedures—each a separate document—in the areas of nursing, patient care, and patient safety.

The Methodist Hospital System provided electronic access to policy and procedure documents on static intranet sites based on Adobe ColdFusion, but it faced issues with user adoption and document maintenance. “Users struggled with ease of use, navigation, and searching for the appropriate documents,” says Matt Fink, Vice President for Corporate Systems at The Methodist Hospital System. “Administrators struggled with locating source documents and ensuring appropriate review of document revisions.”

Jane DeStefano, Chief Nursing Officer at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital, who heads the Policies and Procedures team for The Methodist Hospital System, adds, “Every hospital organized and stored documents in a different way, depending on who filed them and how they got filed. Source documents were stored on PCs and the revision and approval process was ad hoc, based largely on email. In addition, although we could see on the website when they were due for update, there were no automated reminders, so we had to track them by hand. Finally, there was no way to archive documents, nor were we able to see who had changed or accessed them.”

In the fall of 2010, stakeholders at The Methodist Hospital System decided the time had come to address these problems. “We wanted to come together, find a solution that would meet our needs, and all start doing things the same way,” says DeStefano.

To address its needs, The Methodist Hospital System adopted an intranet strategy based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Use of the document management features in SharePoint Server 2010 to manage and publish policies and procedures is the first of many ways the hospital system plans to use SharePoint Server 2010. “We had been thinking about deploying SharePoint Server 2010 and saw using it to meet our immediate document management needs as a great first step,” says Fink.

To speed implementation, The Methodist Hospital System turned to MEDSEEK, a provider of enterprise e-health solutions. As a Microsoft Certified Partner, MEDSEEK already had extensive experience with SharePoint Server 2010, on which many of its own products run. “We’re an existing MEDSEEK customer and an early adopter of its Employee Experience and Patient Portal products,” says Fink. “Although the policies and procedures project doesn’t involve a MEDSEEK software product, we realized that their experience with SharePoint Server 2010 and focus on the healthcare industry could help us accelerate deployment and reduce risk. In addition, working with MEDSEEK would help ensure a similar look and feel across all sites.”

Discovery and Planning
Discussions with MEDSEEK began in November 2010, followed by an onsite meeting early the following month. During the two-day meeting, MEDSEEK interviewed members of the various policy and procedure committees for the system and each of its hospitals. They examined existing source control and disaster recovery mechanisms, finding that both could easily be improved. They also looked at revision and approval processes; the system and its five hospitals each had separate processes for nursing documents and patient care and safety documents, resulting in a total of 12 processes.

“We recommended one workflow at the system level, and one workflow at the hospital level—flexible enough to support all five hospitals,” says Michael Lowe, Vice President for Performance Improvement at MEDSEEK. “We also examined the poor user adoption for the existing portal, determining that deficiencies in navigation and search were the main issues we had to address to improve user adoption. We also suggested abandoning the use of Adobe Acrobat files and keeping the documents in Microsoft Word format, so that we could modify the policy and procedure templates to take advantage of the Document Information Panel properties in Word to facilitate efficient search.”

* In the past, it often took 10 to 15 minutes to find a document; now it takes about 30 seconds, which increases employee satisfaction. *

Jane DeStefano
Chief Nursing Officer, San Jacinto Methodist Hospital, The Methodist Hospital System

In early January 2011, MEDSEEK installed the new SharePoint Server 2010 environment. Over the next three weeks, two MEDSEEK developers used Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 to customize the solution. They created six document libraries: one at the healthcare system level and one for each of the five hospitals. Developers then created custom views for each document library to ensure that pertinent information would be readily available.

Developers also used SharePoint Designer 2010 to create the two workflows for document review and approval, and added new Active Directory Domain Services groups to support various review and approval roles. Additional workflows were created to generate reminders 90 days before each document reaches its next review date. Custom content types were created in SharePoint Server 2010 for the document libraries and Microsoft Office Word 2007 document templates were attached to those content types, so that new policies and procedures would have a consistent look and feel. Microsoft InfoPath 2010 was used to customize the fields displayed in the Document Information Panel in Word 2007—information that SharePoint Server 2010 automatically inserts when new documents are created and extracts when documents are uploaded.

“With SharePoint Server 2010, document metadata can be used to easily navigate or find documents,” says Lowe. “Some of that metadata is automatically inherited based on content type and document location, which helps ensure that new documents are always tagged correctly.”

The Methodist Hospital System used SharePoint Server 2010 search functionality to help users easily find the documents they need. If there are many results, caregivers can use the new search refinement panel in SharePoint Server 2010 to easily see faceted views of those results, sorting them based on properties such as author, document size, title, and metadata within the document.

“The navigation and search capabilities we have today are substantially improved, enabling employees to quickly find the policies and procedures they need,” says Fink. “In the past, when performing a search, users would often be overwhelmed with search results. Today, they can easily start a search with a few words and quickly find the results—for example, drilling down on policies for needle safety for a specific hospital.”

MEDSEEK also configured SharePoint Server 2010 document management features such as check-in and check-out in the document libraries, which The Methodist Hospital System is using to prevent two people from inadvertently working on the document at the same time. Auditing was also enabled, so that administrators can see who has changed, approved, and viewed any document.

By January 2011, MEDSEEK was ready to turn the solution over to The Methodist Hospital System to start uploading documents. Final tweaks to the solution were made during the last week of January, and the solution went live on February 1.

With IT effort for the project now winding down, Fink is already looking at what else he can easily move to SharePoint Server 2010. IT policies and procedures are a prime candidate. “We’ll continue to transition our entire intranet to SharePoint Server 2010—one step at a time,” he says. “We also plan to move our consumer-facing website to SharePoint Server 2010 with the assistance of MEDSEEK, as a means of pushing content ownership and authoring out to business users—and getting IT out of the business of content management.”

The hospital system’s implementation of SharePoint Server 2010 resides on five virtualized servers: two web servers, one application server for search and indexing, and an active-passive database cluster. All servers run the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system. The database cluster also runs Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise data management software.

“We knew going into the project that we would be moving our entire intranet to SharePoint Server 2010, so we built an enterprise-class environment up front,” says Fink. “That way, as we continue to expand our use of SharePoint Server 2010, we’ll have a scalable infrastructure in place.”

With its new document management solution based on SharePoint Server 2010, The Methodist Hospital System is making policies and procedures readily available to the people who need them. Navigation and search are much more intuitive than before, and administrators are benefiting from easy access to version history, source documents, workflow automation, and reminders when documents are up for review. The Methodist Hospital System was able to realize all of these benefits quickly and cost-effectively.

* The workflow features in SharePoint Server will definitely make us more productive, especially considering that we have more than 800 policies and procedures that need to be updated every three years. *

Jane DeStefano
Chief Nursing Officer, San Jacinto Methodist Hospital, The Methodist Hospital System

Faster and Easier Access to Information
More than 8,000 caregivers at The Methodist Hospital System are more productive because they now enjoy faster, easier access to policies and procedures. One such person is DeStefano, who no longer gets calls at home in the evening when someone can’t find a document. “Regardless of where someone is in any one of our hospitals, they can find the policies and procedures they need with just a few mouse clicks or a quick search,” she says. “In the past, it often took 10 to 15 minutes to find a document; now it takes about 30 seconds, which increases employee satisfaction.”

Streamlined, Predictable Revision and Approval Process
DeStefano expects to see similar productivity gains for administrators who must track, manage, and review the healthcare system’s more than 800 policies and procedures for nursing and patient care and safety. “We’re eager to start using the review and approval workflows, which will make the entire process much more predictable and efficient,” she says. “In the past, it could take hours to find the latest version of a file. Moving forward, we’ll always know where that latest version resides and can route it for approval and publishing without wasted effort. The workflow features in SharePoint Server 2010 will definitely make us more productive, especially considering that we have more than 800 policies and procedures that need to be updated every three years.”

Improved Compliance and Reporting
The Methodist Hospital System will benefit from improved compliance and reduce risk through formal change control, a consistent approval process, and extensive auditing features. “We now have formal, predictable, and repeatable process for document management, with automated reminders when documents are up for review,” says DeStefano. ”We can also see who changed any document and why they changed it. With the solution we have today, I don’t expect our accrediting agencies to find any issues in how we manage and publish policies and procedures.”

Rapid Implementation
Through its choice of SharePoint Server 2010 and partnership with MEDSEEK, The Methodist Hospital System was able to realize these benefits quickly and cost-effectively, implementing and deploying the solution in only a few months—with very little custom development. “Our rapid time-to-market is a testament to the rich out-of-the-box functionality provided by SharePoint Server 2010, its ease of customization, and the expertise of MEDSEEK,” says Fink. “I’m very impressed with how fast it all came together.”

Low Implementation Cost
Although Fink declines to share the project’s overall cost, he states it was minimal and well worth it. “Total costs were very reasonable, especially considering that the solution we have in place today can also support business intelligence, collaboration, web content management, composite applications, and more. I expect the move of our entire intranet to SharePoint Server 2010 to rapidly pick up speed. This first project went so smoothly that we have no fear of next steps.”

Microsoft Solutions for the Healthcare Industry
Healthcare and life sciences organizations are under tremendous pressure to meet regulatory requirements, improve patient care, and reduce the time it takes to develop drugs and take them to market. To meet this challenge, Microsoft and its partners have developed cost-effective solutions that enable healthcare organizations to streamline and automate daily processes that improve productivity and deliver information whenever and wherever it is needed. The result is enhanced productivity, safety, and quality. 

For more information about Microsoft solutions for the healthcare industry, go to:

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about MEDSEEK, visit the website at:

For more information about The Methodist Hospital System, visit the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 12000 employees

Organization Profile

The Methodist Hospital System, based in Houston, Texas, is a non-profit healthcare organization consisting of five hospitals, with more than 12,000 employees.

Business Situation

Users found it difficult to locate policies and procedures on The Methodist Hospital System intranet site. Administrators relied on inefficient, ad-hoc processes to manage and revise these documents.


The Methodist Hospital System deployed Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and took advantage of extensive document management features as a first step in transitioning its entire intranet site to SharePoint Server 2010.


  • Faster and easier access to policies and procedures
  • Streamlined, predictable revision and approval process
  • Improved compliance and reporting
  • Rapid time-to-market
  • Low implementation costs

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Infopath 2010
  • Microsoft Office Word 2007
  • Microsoft Sharepoint Designer 2010

Vertical Industries

United States

IT Issue
Enterprise Content Management