4-page Case Study - Posted 2/24/2009
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Orthopedic Center To Grow 30 Percent and Boost Productivity with Online Services
annatommie is an orthopedic diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation center in the Netherlands. With ambitious plans to open 14 offices, annatommie needed to automate manual processes to lower costs and boost productivity. Hesitant to invest in an expensive IT infrastructure, annatommie worked with Tam Tam, a local Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, to subscribe to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite from Microsoft Online Services. With flexible online software, annatommie can expand its patient load by 30 percent without increasing its staff. The center saves €28,000 (U.S.$36,759) annually on software licensing fees, while most employees save one to two hours a day—a value of €105,000 (U.S$138,467) a year, in more efficient communication and data access. Patient scheduling is consistent and reliable, and Microsoft-hosted systems eliminate downtime.
Launched in 2003 when the Netherlands opened its state-run healthcare system to privatization, annatommie is a privately run orthopedic center that provides diagnosis, surgery, therapy, and rehabilitation services. Its staff of orthopedic surgeons performs hundreds of operations each year, mostly on knees, shoulders, wrists, and ankles, though 70 percent of annatommie patients are helped without surgery. The company currently has four centers, in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rijswijk, and The Hague, with plans to open 14 more centers across the country. annatommie currently employs 40 surgeons, clinicians, and administrative staff.
Management knew that to carry out its aggressive growth plans, the center needed to digitize paper-based patient data, standardize and automate processes, and simplify communications between staff members. When patients moved between annatommie offices to see different specialists, staff members had to mail or courier paper files to accompany them. Setting up patient appointments was a hit-or-miss affair and often frustrating because the company’s third-party Web-based scheduling application was unreliable and often unavailable, and it did not work well from all offices. Administrative staff in different offices had to phone one another to check physician availability, appointment slots were frequently double-booked, and patients were inconvenienced by scheduling errors.
Some patient data was in electronic format, residing in a Microsoft® Access® database, but it was not integrated with the appointment system. Thus, annatommie sometimes did not have the appropriate staff on hand for patient visits, and physicians often did not have the patient’s background information that they needed for diagnosis and treatment. Also, the appointment system was not linked to the company’s Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server e-mail messaging and collaboration software, so physicians could not use the Microsoft Office Outlook® messaging and collaboration client to set up and manage appointments in their calendars.
“We wanted to implement a paperless office and centralize patient data and scheduling information so that it would be easily accessible to every employee from any location,” says Derk Rietveld, Chief Executive Officer and Orthopedic Surgeon at annatommie. “We also wanted to implement uniform practices and procedures across our offices for everything from taking X-rays to setting up appointments and performing examinations. As we grow, consistency and repeatability will be important in providing high-quality customer service and keeping costs down by not reinventing the wheel every time an office opens.”
Rietveld also envisioned shared online workspaces where doctors could consult with one another about patient X-rays and other data, schedule shared resources such as examination rooms and equipment, and post important company information. annatommie had built a rudimentary intranet to serve these purposes and even tried to create a public portal where patients could view their X-rays and files. However, the company could not cost-effectively build in the security mechanisms necessary to meet government regulations regarding patient data confidentiality, so it shut down the site.
Management realized that technology could help annatommie grow and deliver many competitive advantages, but the center was hesitant to pour significant resources into building out a massive technology infrastructure. It wanted to stay focused on delivering great orthopedic services and hiring the best medical talent, not purchasing servers, managing software, and adding expensive IT professionals.
annatommie turned to Tam Tam, a longtime technology collaborator and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, located in Delft. Initially, annatommie came to Tam Tam looking for help with its Web site. But as the discussion unfolded, annatommie shared its other business challenges and visions. Tam Tam offered to build annatommie a new integrated appointment scheduling and patient data system using Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007. However, an on-premises implementation was far too costly, time consuming, and labor-intensive to meet annatommie’s needs. To eliminate the need for annatommie to purchase the hardware and software infrastructure needed to run Office SharePoint Server 2007 on-premises, to speed solution delivery, and to lower ongoing IT costs, Tam Tam offered to deliver these new systems using the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite from Microsoft Online Services.
||Microsoft Online Services gives us an easy way to grow rapidly without managing an expensive, cumbersome IT infrastructure.
Chief Executive Officer and Orthopedic Surgeon, annatommie
The Business Productivity Online Standard Suite includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online. These powerful enterprise communications and collaboration programs are hosted by Microsoft and delivered through partners to lower implementation costs.
For a low per-user monthly subscription fee to Exchange Online, annatommie was able to instantly upgrade its older Exchange 2000 Server environment to the newer capabilities in Exchange Server 2007. annatommie staff members access Exchange Online through an easy-to-use Web browser to send and receive e-mail messages, book treatment rooms and equipment, and schedule meetings. Staff in any of annatommie’s four offices can view all these shared resources from the firm’s SharePoint Online site.
To enable annatommie staff members to make patient appointments from any location and link appointments to patient medical data, Tam Tam made the company’s existing appointment scheduler and limited electronic patient data immediately accessible through SharePoint Online. This step made these business-critical systems centrally and reliably accessible to all employees, and enabled physicians to access patient data with a few mouse-clicks while reviewing their day’s appointments.
By integrating the appointment scheduler with the patient data system, annatommie enables staff to use electronic forms with automated workflows in the Microsoft Office InfoPath® 2007 information gathering program. Staff members can enter patient data electronically using SharePoint Online and automatically route forms to the appropriate people. Built-in security measures ensure that only authorized personnel can view patient files, which remain onsite, in an annatommie database, but are accessible to employees through Microsoft Online Services.
Using Office Communications Online, annatommie clinicians and administrative staff can instantly see the whereabouts of colleagues to get fast answers or hold quick meetings. They use Office Live Meeting for weekly staff meetings where doctors share patient files and review documentation together.
With its integrated patient data and appointment scheduling system delivered through SharePoint Online, annatommie can deliver the prompt, consistent service it desires, and the service will scale to meet its growth plans. By implementing key business systems using Microsoft Online Services, annatommie saves €28,000 [U.S.$36,759] in software licensing costs each year, which it can put toward opening new offices. New communications efficiencies and the ability to access information using SharePoint Online save employees one to two hours each day, which enables staff to get more done and spend more time with patients. Centralized electronic patient records lead to more accurate decisions, and Microsoft-hosted software helps reduce downtime.
||Our e-mail and appointment systems are so much more dependable than they used to be, which is important for a healthcare provider. … Microsoft Online Services gives us the reliability our employees and customers demand.
Chief Executive Officer and Orthopedic Surgeon, annatommie
Flexible Foundation Accommodates 30 Percent Growth
With business-critical systems hosted by Microsoft Online Services, annatommie is free to grow as fast as it wants without worrying about continuously expanding an IT infrastructure or managing escalating IT expenses. “We want to grow our patient load by 30 percent, but do it using our same staff,” Rietveld says. “We can only do that by being more effective. Microsoft Online Services gives us an easy way to grow rapidly without managing an expensive, cumbersome IT infrastructure.”
Lower IT Costs
The use of Microsoft Online Services also lowers IT costs for annatommie, because the company will not need to increase its small IT staff as the company grows. “Our two IT staff members are free to focus on other things now that we access most of our key business systems in the cloud,” Rietveld says. “They are easily saving up to 90 minutes a day on messaging and other computer management issues. Plus, we have been able to eliminate the need for supplemental outside consultant fees, a savings of €23,443 [U.S.$30,000] annually.”
annatommie has also eliminated server investments and software licensing fees. “We are saving €8,000 [U.S.$10,550] annually on licensing fees for the Microsoft programs that we are using through Microsoft Online Services,” Rietveld says. “We also saved €20,000 [U.S.$26,348] on new third-party appointment scheduling and patient medical data software that we no longer have to purchase, because Tam Tam will develop these systems for us using Office SharePoint Server 2007.”
Because e-mail messages, patient data, appointments, and other business data is accessible from any Web browser using the Business Productivity Online Suite, the medical staff no longer spends time driving back to their offices to access this information. They can get it from any annatommie office or remote location. Rietveld estimates that this convenience saves up to an hour a day for valuable medical professionals.
Staff members can also phone in to meetings using Office Live Meeting rather than driving between offices. “Every month we used to have a face-to-face staff meeting where we would discuss patients and review paper files,” Rietveld says. “Now all that is electronic, so physicians can participate from home or another office using Office Live Meeting.”
annatommie is in the process of distributing smartphones to executives and physicians who will be able to access Exchange Online e-mail messages from these devices. This will help busy, mobile professionals move freely between offices without sacrificing productivity.
The 14 administrative staff members who manage patient appointments each save two hours a day accessing the scheduling system through SharePoint Online—a savings of €105,000 [U.S.$138,467] annually. This also alleviates frustration and stress, increases appointment accuracy, and enables the existing staff to take on more work. “We won’t have to hire more people to do this work as the company grows; our existing staff can now do more,” Rietveld says.
A critical benefit of the new setup is the fact that staff members in any location can access the data they need, when they need it, with the assurance that everyone is looking at the same information. This dramatically reduces scheduling mistakes and improves everyone’s accuracy. “The quality of everyone’s work has increased because we are all looking at the same data, which is easily accessible,” Rietveld says. “Discussions are more accurate, which helps prevent bad decisions, protecting our patients and our reputation.”
Higher Service Reliability
With Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and the other Microsoft hosted services, employees have uninterrupted access to everything they need to do their jobs, all guaranteed by financially-backed service-level agreements.
“Our systems have to be reliable, and now they are,” Rietveld says. “Our e-mail and appointment systems are so much more dependable than they used to be, which is important for a healthcare provider. When employees want to work from home, they no longer worry about whether or not they can connect. Microsoft Online Services gives us the reliability our employees and customers demand.”
Microsoft Online Services
Microsoft Online Services is a business-class communications and collaboration software offering delivered as a subscription service, hosted by Microsoft, and sold with partners. These services help make it easier for customers to rapidly and cost-effectively access the most up-to-date technologies, and are designed for rapid deployment to provide customers with streamlined communications, simplified management, and business-class reliability and security.
For IT staff, Microsoft Online Services helps reduce the burden of performing routine IT management tasks such as installation, provisioning, ongoing maintenance, patches, updates, and upgrades, making it possible for them to spend more time on initiatives that move the business forward. These services are backed by strong SLAs and are designed to meet the regulatory compliance and reliability needs of enterprise customers. On a technical level, the services boast the sophistication and reliability that customers expect from Microsoft, which continues to invest heavily in building data centers to support these services.
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