So often when we talk to new hospitals about their goals in improving internal communication, the needs are the same—implement a single place folks can go for whatever information they’re looking for, provide real-time updates as opposed to having to distribute information, access to administrative documentation of various sorts. Of course, those are all very important basics of communication and are quite often a quantum leap forward.
It’s not that often, however, that the wheels really start to turn and hone in on more advanced capabilities like the custom integration and workflow that can really take a hospital’s intranet to the next level. These are the ideas that admittedly make me a little giddy. Somewhere along the way, my mantra has become “Your intranet is only limited by your imagination.” So the real question is, after you have successfully implemented all the “vanilla” intranet functionality that is run-of-the-mill today, what other dots that need to be connected can your imagination dream up?
Admittedly, uncovering the need for great custom functionality usually means having struggled with a frustrating and inefficient process, which are often experienced by various departments across the hospital. So for these operational challenges to find their way into the minds of the intranet team means the intranet team has probably been practicing “managing by walking around” otherwise they would never understand the intricacies as well as opportunities for solving the problem. So kudos to those sleuthy intranet teams that get up close and personal with their hospital’s departments so they can really help them. This is a great example of a concept we discussed in our educational webinar session “4 Secrets to Enhance Internal Communication in Hospitals” earlier this week: in order to truly optimize user experience, you must go beyond user testing and shadow staff in different departments, walk in their shoes a bit, feel their pain. Most of the time the departmental staff who deals with communications challenges every day that could be improved are not aware of what is possible by crafting a well-designed integration. So sometimes as an intranet manager, you have to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat.
A few examples that come to mind are automating the benefits enrollment process; the employee review process; allowing staff to anonymously report incidents without fear of punitive action; setting up custom dashboards to replace manually compiled data; building a custom form with complex logic to automate review and approval of purchasing requests; repurposing and tweaking meeting room reservation functionality to serve as an OR reservation system; and configuring a two-way exchange of information with physicians to facilitate peer review and tedious credentialing processes.
The reality is these examples just scratch the surface. There is so much more that can be done and is being done on hospital intranets today that seemed more like science fiction just a few years ago. So, how big is your imagination? Please share some of your organization’s successes—we look forward to hearing about them!