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SharePoint in healthcare settings can boost employee policy training

SharePoint in healthcare has myriad uses: training employees, distributing compliance policy updates and more. Here's how to get the most ROI.

Hospitals and other organizations with a large workforce rely on content management systems to centralize and share information across the enterprise. Some of this information includes clinical protocols documents, as well as training and educational information for the staff. Many have been able to successfully implement initiatives that resolved many of their data management needs through the use of enterprise-grade intranet solutions and Web solutions.

The SharePoint server products have been very successful over the years at empowering end users to manage electronic content and automate processes that traditionally relied on emails and other communication methods. The product has undergone some updates in its latest version, SharePoint 2013. These updates affect social media, analytics and content messaging, and are in line with the demands of the marketplace.

Some health organizations were early adopters of SharePoint. Many more are recognizing that now is the time for them to implement such a system and leverage many of the capabilities the platform has to offer.

Some of the functionalities the new SharePoint has to offer for healthcare organizations are:

  • Video searches
  • Improved search functionality
  • Social media
  • Micro-blogging
  • Simplified and polished user interface
  • Communities
  • Sites
  • E-Discovery
  • Mobile
  • Content management
  • Business intelligence
  • Composites and line-of-business integration with business connectivity services
  • App marketplace

There are some critical steps that must be taken into consideration when planning to deploy an enterprise-wide content management platform such as SharePoint 2013:

Define the business challenges the system must resolve: While there are multiple departments within hospitals, (biomedical engineering, nursing, administration, clinical, registration), there is still the need to define the use cases in which the content management system can be applied.

One business unit at a time: Each unit within the hospital can benefit from an enterprise content management system individually. It becomes very important to outline how a platform like SharePoint can improve employee productivity within each unit to help justify and make the business case for the platform. This also helps engage the department and allow them to see how they can benefit from it.

Understand people and processes first and then technology: SharePoint 2013's features and functionality can be hard to resist for many technology folks. This can distract the IT department from focusing on what a system needs to do instead of its potential. For this reason, it's critical to approach SharePoint's benefits from what users can do with it and not what it can do to users. By putting people and processes first, IT can ensure end users will reap the benefits of the solution.

Define the areas of cost savings: There are several areas where SharePoint can provide strong cost savings:

  • Reduction in labor hours, saved through the use of electronic forms made available through SharePoint;
  • Reduction in costs associated with custom development that is replaced by SharePoint's customization functionalities;
  • Reduction of manual processes through the use of the workflow engine and other automations;
  • Quick and efficient methods of access to information;
  • Centralized platform for electronic content; and
  • Possible reduction of penalties due to improved compliance with regulatory requirements.

SharePoint enables organizations to reduce some of the costs associated with training and maintenance of intranet/Internet sites. The system can help manage information within the hospital and enable the end users to collaborate efficiently to improve patient care.

Reda Chouffani is vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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