Managing Internal Communication in Hospitals: EHR or Intranet (or Both)?

At, hospitals we work with sometimes ask how internal communication features we offer vary from tools within an EHR. Of course, the answer varies not only with which EHR, but also with which version and set of optional EHR modules a hospital may have. However, the answer is consistently that there is little overlap between the two. Because EHRs focus on clinical records, not much is common with the internal administrative communication that intranets are used for.

In fact, most hospitals we work with use a litany of enterprise systems for specialized purposes such as Revenue Cycle, Learning Management, HR, Payroll, Customer Service Tracking, and more. The question is how they all fit together. In the case of an intranet, it tends to act as a launching pad for other systems and centralize access as well as log-in. We often link to other systems and set up Single-Sign-Ons so it is discrete to the end user that they have left one system and gone to another. It is typical for us to integrate with other systems in a variety of different ways. For example, we typically feed our Phone Directory from either Active Directory, an HR system, or a Phone System so that the Phone Directory does not need to be managed within the intranet.

Back to the case of EHRs, it seems that most EHRs provide some extent of basic internal communication functionality, but not much that can be used for organization-wide communication tasks. For example, many hospitals on Meditech Magic previously published Policies and Procedures via Mox, but as more and more Meditech clients are upgrading to 6.0 and beyond, the removal of Mox has left them with a need for electronic Policy Management. Particularly with so many hospitals reevaluating their EHR vendor and making changes, intranets are used extensively to support project management and implementation of a new system by publishing FAQs and role-specific workflow how-tos as well as collaborating on project documents. In other cases, we pull EHR data into the intranet as we have for a Census Board for one CPSI client and an OR Reservation System for another.

So, long story short, we have found minimal overlap between intranet and EHR content, mainly because the two systems serve such different purposes. However, thoughtful integration does allow the two to work well together and streamline communication for staff across hospital systems. How has your hospital dealt with optimizing communication between the intranet and one or more EHRs across your healthcare organization?

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