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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Apr 15 2012   10:42PM GMT

Some of the highlights of collaborative tools available today

Posted by: RedaChouffani
data exchange, EHR integration, Open Source, sharepoint

For some time now, enterprise users and healthcare organizations have turned to different intranet tools (Open Source, commercial products) to help manage internal document storage, authoring and project collaboration. But one trend I’ve noticed in the recent months is that there continues to be a higher useage of Microsoft solutions, such as SharePoint.

Some of the reasons for this increased rate of engagement is because the platform can play well with many other products and solutions available through Microsoft, which offers tremendous flexibility when it comes to customizing the solution to fit and resolve the specific needs and challenges of various organizations.

Healthcare has some pretty unique challenges that require specific ways in which to resolve them.  Many result from some of the inefficiencies in workflows and lack of automation.  Some of the functionalities included in the latest version of SharePoint server proves to enable many IT executivse to implement creative solutions that have been able to significantly improve workflows and create new efficiencies.

There are many advantages to a platform such as Microsoft SharePoint for healthcare organizations:

Office Integration: Office users will be able to take advantage of many of the capabilities offered through the integration of SharePoint and Office tools. This tight integration with Office productivity tools is useful for many of the hospital back office staff.  With its file menu integration, document check in/out, document version tracking and workspaces, hospital teams can collaborate on complex projects, such as ICD-10, EHR adoption meaningful use compliance, and many others, with ease.

Workflow Engine: SharePoint engine provides an incredibly powerful workflow engine.  It uses Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF).  This server side engine provides the ability to convert an existing organization’s workflow processes into a digital workflow format that can be applied to everything from documents, tasks, items, and many other entities in SharePoint.  Things such as routing specific forms based on content to the appropriated users can provide a robust way to handle automatic document routing and approvals.

Collaboration: With the ability to create centralized locations for different team members to access contacts, links, calendars, announcements and documents SharePoint helps increase the productivity of teams from all departments in a health organization.

Performance Dashboard:  A tight integration of PerformancePoint Services and the latest SharePoint Server 2010 provides a perfect combination that delivers an integrated performance management service that can assist with monitoring, and analyzing healthcare data.  The system gives access through the portal to financial performance, hospital payer mix, compliance stats, or simply reviewing the clinical outcomes.

For healthcare organizations, the focus continues to be on the delivery of the highest quality of coordinated care. But in order to also successfully reduce operational costs, there are many available solutions in the market place that can — and should — be implemented.  These products provide the right tools that make sharing information, and access to data, easier and attainable.  I believe that SharePoint provides tangible benefits and enables organizations to streamline their processes and provide access to data, helping the care delivery process and improving outcomes to boot.

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