Back in 2010, I had a vision to build an information system that would advance the pace of delivering quality healthcare and challenge the perception that public institutions are slow moving.
Our team envisioned a mechanism that allowed an intricate ecosystem of over 2,800 members to work with greater efficiency, boost overall productivity, and better communication. The solution would produce a better experience for all stakeholders and reduce administration time so medical professionals could focus more on the patient. To consolidate servers, lower power consumption, decrease IT administration effort and costs, we decided to design our IT ecosystem as a private cloud solution using the multiple interoperable offerings on the Microsoft platform: Lync, Outlook, and Share Point 2010. We built the platform in the cloud so people can access it from everywhere. Moreover, this has proved to be the most cost efficient method as it is also easy to scale up and adapt to our needs.
This addressed the issues from the original system that brought unneeded frustration and strain on internal cooperation because the proper channels of communication were not set in place.
Obstructing Bureaucratic Processes. Traditionally, a simple request like purchasing inventory needed around 3 weeks to be approved. The process of approval included a review by the Board and multiple approvals from several departments. This was time consuming and unsustainable as each proposal could have up to 30 pages. The bureaucratic process slowed productivity and affected the ability of employees to deliver top quality care.
Lack of Channels for Coordination. Patients interact with several stakeholders in the continuum of care from doctors, to administrative staff, to nurses and managers. Coordination therefore in a hospital is of utmost importance, as every decision impacts a life.
After clearly understanding the problems and the bottlenecks, we then went to the drawing board to start drafting a solution that would meet our underlying objective: creating a faster moving machine. We created a portal that focused on five key areas:
1. Executive workflow process – Internal decision-making and coordination needed to be quicker. Our online portal was built to integrate and automate all of these processes. As a result, proposals no longer need to be printed; all approvals are made online and reviewed at the user’s leisure. Amendments and comments can be sent back immediately to the original. Instant messaging tools like Lync, help speed up the exchange of information.
2. Material and equipment requisition – Our new online portal allows for important supplies to be approved instantaneously rather than waiting two weeks for the Board meetings where are the directors meet. For example, if the cardiology department needs to buy equipment like an imaging workstation – needed for daily diagnosis – the directors who need to approve the request will get an e-mail and with a click of the button the requisition will be granted.
3. E-learning and knowledge base platform – There is so much knowledge and content that can be shared in a hospital, but without the right platforms, disseminating the information is difficult. Our platform allows each user to learn about internal process as well as upload good case practices, articles, research papers. Coordination and learning is much easier now!
4. Complaints management – Aiming at improving care services, the complaint management system properly tracks and manages the review process to help workers better collaborate.
5. Intranet collaborative portal - Every department in our hospital has its own internal page on our portal. People in each department can now track their specific events, meetings, training programmes, timelines and upload documents. The best part about it is that through the new portal we can also access the information shared in other departments. The platform uses SharePoint 2010 and it integrates Lync, an internal instant messaging and communication tool to help facilitate quick exchanges of information
"The portal is an excellent communication tool, very easy to use and visually appealing.” Rita Miguel, Communication Cabinet.
The private cloud portal has helped our hospital generate efficiencies and improve productivity as well as overall satisfaction of employees. The open cloud platform also allows us to continue developing it, add new applications and build new processes into the system. The success truly lied in the quick adoption of the system by our staff as they found it easy to use this technology and experienced clear benefits.
After a year and a half of having implemented the portal, I can easily say that this has allowed the hospital to build important synergies.
This solution was built in partnership with CAVEDIGITAL, a Portuguese SME.
We are pleased to host on our website contributions from external experts and stakeholders and we are grateful for their time and thoughts. The content developed by our guest bloggers is purely the reflections of the author and does not necessarily reflect Microsoft positions.