The Louisiana State Department of Health and Hospitals protects and promotes the health of the people of Louisiana by ensuring access to medical, preventive, and rehabilitative services. As a part of its services, the department is also tasked with disaster preparedness and must be able to catalog and track gravesites in the event that a major catastrophe, such as a flood, should shift them.
|Because it is a platform, Microsoft Dynamics CRM enabled us to avoid custom development. It was the only solution out there that we could extend to meet a need as specific as tracking gravesites.|
| Henry Yennie|
Program Manager for Emergency Preparedness
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
Natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods can take a toll on gravesites, in some cases moving caskets miles away from their original resting places. Finding, identifying, and reburying the loved ones contained within can be a daunting task—one with which Henry Yennie, Program Manager for Emergency Preparedness at the Louisiana State Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), is familiar.
Still working to help families locate shifted gravesites affected by Hurricane Katrina seven years after the fact, Yennie and his small team of three have faced numerous challenges with their underlying system for disaster management. “Our business need was so unique that the only system that could support us was a legacy system built by the government,” says Yennie. “And we still had to rely on manual processes where there were gaps in functionality. Overall, it left us with a burdensome process for tracking gravesites, wasting considerable time and effort and limiting our responsiveness to families that may contact us.”
Choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM
To alleviate these pains, the team recently transitioned from their legacy application and paper-based processes to a modern solution that stores data in a central repository and automates many tasks associated with identifying and restoring remains to their final resting places. The solution uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage records and internal processes.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM connects to a public-facing Microsoft SharePoint web portal, which allows families and concerned members of the public to submit and monitor the progress of their requests. The solution speeds completion of the team’s on-going post-Katrina mission, and will find them well prepared in the case of a future catastrophic event.
DHH weighed several factors when considering technologies to support their sensitive mission. Ultimately, two factors led them to build the solution on Microsoft Dynamics CRM:
Ease of customization. Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a platform, DHH, with the help of its Microsoft partners, could quickly build and deploy a solution tailored to the unique needs of their emergency preparedness services. Custom entities allow the DHH to track data specific to gravesites and human remains, and to automate the workflows required to process and restore them.
Ease of use. Because many staff members are volunteers—especially in times of crisis—it was imperative that the solution be easy to use. Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers an intuitive user interface, which is familiar to DHH personnel who use Microsoft Office and Outlook, and ensures that very little training is required for volunteers who may not have extensive experience with business applications.
Making a Difference
Although Yennie’s job might seem morbid, it’s also one that’s critically appreciated—and one where having the right technology in place can make all the difference for the affected families. “There’s nothing worse than misidentifying someone, as it can cause tremendous pain for the family,” he says. Although it has only been in use for a short time, the solution already offers benefits both to DHH and to the concerned families they serve:
Transparency and self-service. The public-facing portal enables self-service resolution of many requests for information, significantly reducing the demands on DHH staff. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can, for the first time ever, provide a web portal where concerned constituents can contact us, and we can then get back to them quickly using the information we have in the system, such as photographs or GPS coordinates.”
Fast time to benefit. Yennie points out that this level of readiness was established quickly. He says, “We were able to deploy and customize Microsoft Dynamics CRM to meet our needs in only one week.”
Enhanced emergency preparedness. Looking to the future, Yennie and his team will use the data stored in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution to feed an analytics system, enabling DHH to forecast how gravesites might shift in the event of projected disasters.
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Document published January 2013.