Microsoft Office gives Beaumont Hospital computer users a clean bill of health
Published: May 2010
When dealing with a large group of computer users, giving them the right software is essential to getting the best from those workers, ensuring they are productive and have minimal issues. Microsoft Office productivity tools provide that level of comfort for the user, with all of the functionality they need in an environment that is familiar and easy to use.
Beaumont Hospital is a large academic teaching hospital 5km north of Dublin City centre. It provides emergency and acute care services across 54 medical specialties to a local community of some 290,000 people. It is a designated Cancer Centre and the Regional Treatment Centre for Ear, Nose and Throat, and Gastroenterology. It is also the National Referral Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology, Renal Transplantation, and Cochlear Implantation. With a staff of some 3,500 and 820 beds, it is one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the country.
Beaumont is also the principal teaching hospital for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and enjoys close links with Dublin City University, especially in the area of nurse training, as well as other academic institutions in the areas of training and research. Formed by the merger of the Jervis Street and Richmond Hospitals, Beaumont opened for business in brand new premises in 1987.
Beaumont ventured into using alternative software solutions in the early 2000s for a number of desktop applications including word processing, presentations and spreadsheets. In 2007 the decision was taken to revert to Microsoft Office, primarily because compatibility of data between the hospital and a range of external organisations had been identified as essential to the hospital's strategy. For the future, it was felt that Office addressed this and a number of other issues, such as spreadsheet functionality and presentation quality, in a manner more acceptable to the hospital's extensive user community.
According to Donal Rorke of Beaumont’s IT department, the entire project was a major undertaking. Including tendering, evaluation and implementation, it took 18 months and was completed by Microsoft and its implementation partner Dell. In addition to rolling out Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows XP, Beaumont Hospital’s IT team used the project as an opportunity to undertake a hardware refresh of many PCs throughout the organisation. The deal also included a licence for Microsoft SQL Server database software.
Existing documents and files were put into a directory to be converted into a format that could be read by users with Microsoft Office. “There was a huge amount of integration work that we managed. We didn’t want to rely on people having converted it themselves. We had to make sure that any information on the old PCs made it onto the new PCs,” Rorke explains. Having moved to Active Directory, the hospital is now in a position to implement Microsoft Exchange across the board.
Training in Microsoft Office was delivered by Beaumont’s in-house team, and it’s notable that the department was not overrun with requests even following the rollout of the software – testament to high acceptance levels. A public relations and communications programme had ensured that clients were made aware of the stages involved in the project, helpdesk support and training sessions were available and customized to requirements. Help Tips were created and published on the hospital intranet for staff to access, according to Niamh Kane, Lead IT Systems Trainer with Beaumont’s IT department.
Looking ahead, reversion to the Microsoft platform confers many additional benefits for Beaumont. Document sharing looks set to play a significant role in the running of the hospital in future, and the Microsoft Office toolset closely integrates with collaboration software like SharePoint. “Document sharing between different teams is becoming more important every day. Everyone is talking about collaboration now. Beaumont is a teaching hospital and as such many of the people there share best practice through document sharing and document management,” explains Orlagh O’Donnell, Business Manager at Microsoft Ireland. “A lot of our tools integrate with Outlook and SharePoint, so they are made for collaboration. Our product suite is built cohesively – all the products work together. And you know that with Microsoft you’re going to have a roadmap.”
“Familiarity, functionality and portability are the three big things that moving back to Microsoft gives us. Staff are now able to bring material with them to work on at home, or they might be sending a particular document to and they’re not having to worry about whether the recipient can open it.
“There is less time spent formatting and fixing things. I’m sure productivity has improved as a result of the staff working with tools with which they are familiar”
IT Manager, Beaumont Hospital
“Our product suite is built cohesively – all the products work together. And you know that with Microsoft you’re going to have a roadmap.If people go away from your products, winning them back can be even more valuable because they realize what they had been missing.It shows our products work – people find them easy to use and they like them. And from an IT management perspective, we have made Microsoft Office simple to deploy.”
Business Manager, Microsoft
Familiarity for users
“Familiarity, functionality and portability are the three big things that moving back to Microsoft gives us,” says Rorke. “Staff are now able to bring material with them to work on at home, or they might be sending a particular document to the HSE [Health Service Executive] and they’re not having to worry about whether the recipient can open it.” Rorke adds that the reintroduction of Office has helped to make staff at the hospital more efficient. “There is less time spent formatting and fixing things. I’m sure productivity has improved as a result of the staff working with tools with which they are familiar.”
Lower training overhead
As a result of switching back to Microsoft Office the number of staff registering for Beaumont’s in-house ECDL [European Computer Driving Licence] training course has increased. This coincided with allowing more flexible options for taking the course, Niamh Kane points out. “Clients did say they preferred to wait until Microsoft was available as they had access to it at home to practice,” she adds.
Consistency of information and formatting
Microsoft’s Orlagh O’Donnell points out that fidelity of information is an important factor when working across multiple applications, or working on the same document on different PCs. “Microsoft Office holds the data format, for example between Word and Excel, when and cutting and pasting. You don’t lose any time by having to change formats, so by definition you increase productivity and there is no time lost. Whether people were using Word, Excel or PowerPoint, they were able to use the product at home with consistent formatting of styles.”
Reduced IT support requirement
Calls to the IT department have reportedly fallen sharply since Office was reintroduced at Beaumont. Users’ familiarity with the suite means they are less likely to need the help of a colleague. Moreover, Microsoft Office training kits are easily available online, offering additional tips and tricks on using the software. Open Source software tends to be more suited to technically literate users, since much of the troubleshooting relies on community-based forums rather than more formal IT support structures.
Rorke says the project was a success. “It went really well, and the entire project was professionally done.” he points out. “There were no problems with the rollout which was on time. You could say it’s a testament to Office’s strengths, the stability of the product and the functionality that comes with it.”
Adds Orlagh O’Donnell: “If people go away from your products, winning them back can be even more valuable because they realize what they had been missing.” She is quick to point out that one of the reasons why Beaumont reverted to Microsoft Office was to respond to user demand. “It shows our products work – people find them easy to use and they like them. And from an IT management perspective, we have made Microsoft Office simple to deploy,” she concludes.
Beaumont Hospital is a large academic teaching hospital near Dublin City,
Beaumont Hospital had introduced open source productivity software for its users but usability and compatibility issues emerged and management took a strategic decision to redeploy Microsoft Office, software its staff would be more familiar with.
Microsoft Office is a suite of productivity applications that includes word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools.
- Productivity through familiarity
- Consistency of information
- Less need for IT support.
Microsoft Office 2003
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About Microsoft in Ireland:
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