Recap: Transform Internal Communications with a State-of-the-Art Intranet

On December 4th, we were delighted to have Robb Gardner, CEO of Henry County Health Center, present a back by popular demand session. Gardner presented the same session at National Rural Health Association’s Critical Access Hospital Conference in October and was asked to present the session again as a webinar for those who were unable to attend the conference.

I had the pleasure of introducing Robb and sharing with attendees a few things that I knew Robb would be too humble to mention himself. HCHC has been on quite a run of winning awards. They have received numerous national and international awards: 7-time Most Wired Hospital, Top 100 Hospital of Choice, HFMA MAP Award Winner, Web Health Award recipient, Intranet Innovation Award Winner, and Baldridge Leadership rating recipient. The Intranet Innovation Award in particular generated a lot of excitement. It is a prestigious international award. The only other US winners this year were Mayo Clinic Department of Nursing, Disney, and Virgin America. Also, in Robb’s introduction, I shared his clinical background as a Physical Therapist by trade, which provides additional depth and understanding to Robb’s transition into administration.

The session began with a history of HCHC’s intranet, which now has been over 10 years in the making. Seeing how far the intranet has come in that time was impressive indeed, also demonstrating that an intranet with the depth of theirs doesn’t happen overnight. Next, Robb moved on to specific pieces of functionality that HCHC has built into their intranet that have become indispensable in their daily operation.

He began by highlighting their Census Board, which our team at worked with them to develop. This system pulls in information from CPSI, their inpatient EMR, and provides a variety of summary and granular information that dramatically improves operational efficiency. It helps staff get a sense of what lies ahead of them that day but also allows environmental services staff to update housekeeping status of rooms, isolation categories, and more. This tool is what earned Henry County Health Center the Intranet Innovation Award after Systems Administrator Stacy Speidel submitted a detailed and articulate review of the project.

Next up was an overview of HCHC’s Quality Dashboard, personalized reminders, and Policy management. Robb also explained how the Policy Management module had been repurposed to also manage contracts. Another example of HCHC repurposing technology is their use of calendar event approval workflow to manage and publish department management vacation schedules. Another large undertaking that was chronicled was HCHC’s forms project, which was also managed using the Policy Management module. Upon starting this project, HCHC’s team learned that that had over 700 forms at the hospital, many of which were duplicates and overlap and lacked coordinated governance. The project dramatically decreased the number of forms due to eliminating duplicates and set up a framework for regular governance and review of forms going forward.

Personalized Electronic HR functionality was discussed next. HCHC began providing all Pay Stubs electronically only a few years ago. This was accomplished with a custom form and interface with CPSI. Not only does it save paper and printing expense, staff loves it. If Electronic Pay Stubs was impressive, electronic Benefits Enrollment really took it to the next level. This functionality was developed to allow bi-directional data being shared from and with different systems to automate this tedious and labor intensive process.

The next segment of functionality highlighted focused on ease of access to approved frequently used information. HCHC has compiled a collection of Clinician Quick Links. This is primarily made up of Single Sign Ons into other systems and is a big hit with physicians. Other system integration was covered as well, Xcel Portal and CPSI Financial Center. Electronic Maintenance Requests and Radiology Equipment Service Call Forms were pointed out as shrewd uses of custom electronic fillable forms.

The session concluded with document management. In particular, publishing training materials was covered as was secure committee materials. This topic also led to the final topic covered by HCHC, which is currently being developed. They have are in the process of developing their Board Portal, which will replace other manual and electronic Board communication used in the past. Among other things, when complete the Board Portal will allow Board members to annotate and save documents and easily refer to their own annotations during meetings.

The Question and Answer session was full of great insights as well. An early question was “When you move to the clinician portal, do participants log in again or is it automatic upon entering the main portal?” A: It is automatic. HCHC does not have single-sign-ons set up, but this is something that many other clients utilize. A personal decision based on shared workstations and other security decisions.

Other questions included:

“Who is the gatekeeper of your intranet?” A: HCHC’s Stacy Speidel in IT is gatekeeper. Most departmental content is managed by the departments themselves.

“Can the paystubs be accessed from home?” A: Yes, Staff can remote in.

“Do you use Microsoft Outlook? If so, do the intranet calendar and to do lists integrate?” A: There are a few different ways integration takes place. Add to Outlook button and setting up Outlook Web Access on Web Page Viewer are most common.

“Can an associate access your intranet remotely using an iPad, smartphone, or other mobile device?” A: It is available on any web enabled device. Also working toward additional mobile optimization.

“What do you wish that did better?” A: Can’t think of anything. Partnership has been tremendous, we work together as partners, is an extension of the HCHC organization. HCHC tries to work with companies with same values and have open dialog.

“Can an associate see all of the information on your intranet or do you have security set up that restricts what they can see and ultimately get to?” A: A good example of secure content is contracts is a secure area. Another common use of secure areas is Board Portal as well as committee and project pages.

“Are you (IT staff) able to extract data from CPSI to reflect on a dashboard for example or must you engage CPSI and/or resources to do such things?” A: Use Xcel Portal for CPSI data and can run adhoc reports. Xcel Portal is a third party reporting tool for CPSI data. You can also set up feeds for dashboards as part of support package in many cases.

“Is this overkill for a small hospital? Is it really that much better than shared drives?” A: Robb has lived in both worlds. So much better than shared drives. They still have shared drives. The intranet is so much more effective. For example Archiving quickly, so much more functional, shared drives are mostly documents, not much functionality. Also PTO calendar, census board. He doesn’t know how they would operate without the intranet because they have become so dependent on it.

“Which features do your employees seem to enjoy most?” A: Robb would say there are a Top 3: Payroll/Benefits; Clinicians tab; and Census Board

“How do you recommend getting organizational buy-in?” A: Look at how you can change people’s lives. Once you start to see functionality and removal of frustration such as calling maintenance, calendars, contract management, policies. This can eliminate alot of duplicative and frustrating steps. It can become a dynamic element of your operation.

“Can the Census Board work with a system other than CPSI?” A: It has been used with other systems as well, although HCHC took it to the next level with functionality, adding isolation codes, color coding for male vs female patients. They did a great job making it a vital part of operations. This project is a good example of having someone in IT that can connect dots of solving operational challenges. Stacy was having conversations with EVS and Nursing at the same time and was able to craft a solution to help both. Having someone who can identify needs unique to the organization and use technology to solve those challenges is a huge asset.

Did you miss the session, but want to watch the recording? Click here. What operational challenges has your intranet helped your organization overcome? Please share your stories.

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