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Case Study: Health Quality Innovation Collaborative and Microsoft Yammer
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Case Study: Health Quality Innovation Collaborative and Microsoft Yammer 

The Business Problem
There were several issues that Goel and his partners felt needed to be addressed. First, the organization needed better access to its electronic medical records. That way, physicians could easily relay patient data to other team members, and keep up to date with each phase of their patients’ care.

There was also a need for a more reliable referral system; according to Goel, tracking referrals using a fax system is almost impossible to accomplish. They needed something automated, permanent, and electronic.

Lastly, the collective was looking for a more convenient way to communicate with their patients.

“We wanted to enable patients to communicate with us remotely instead of having to come into the office in person,” said Goel. “That would be easier for them and for the health care provider.”

The Solution
Before introducing Yammer to its operations, HQIC relied on an electronic medical record system called OSCAR (Open Source Clinical Application and Resource) to store patient records and carry out billing processes. But OSCAR was unable to provide the organization with the collaboration capabilities it was looking for, so it decided to go with a solution that combined Microsoft SharePoint, Yammer, and Lync.

HQIC named the solutions Synapse.

Implementation
HQIC’s first step was to implement the dashboard for its new solution. As it went, it realized it needed to add other solutions on to the dashboard – it added a patient portal using SharePoint, then an internal communications system using Yammer and an external communications system using Lync.

“Only people with access to patient records could use our old communication system. This was not good, because they had to be able to communicate with patients and other people, like home care nurses,” said Goel. “So we’re using Yammer in an ingenious manner. We created secure private groups built around patients, and everyone in that group, including family members, can interact with the circle of care.”

Lessons Learned and Best Practices
Goel stressed that during the implementation process, it wasn’t enough to simply install the technology. Much of the heavy lifting lay in creating a culture change in the organization.

“We were very lucky to have some major champions to make it happen,” said Goel. “If you don’t have that, you won’t be able to implement something like this. At the very beginning, I needed to keep reminding people to use Yammer. They kept using email. So it’s important to get champions to remind people at the beginning to use Yammer instead of email.”

Privacy was another issue HQIC had to deal with. The organization was handling sensitive patient data, after all, and Goel stressed that employees have to know what is and is not appropriate to post in a public forum.

Someone has to monitor online communications, Goel said, and privacy is something that organizations really have to consider when implementing social enterprise technology in a health care setting.

Benefits
When it implemented Yammer, HQIC was looking to improve communication amongst the medical community – and that was exactly what it got.

“We believe that teams that talk better to each other provide better care for the patient, because it creates more collaborative care,” said Goel. “Knowledge moves more quickly through the organization. We now have a place where we can go find information more easily; it almost creates a kind of a shared history for the organization.”

This story appears in the April/May 2014 issue of IT in Canada. To read the rest of the issue, click here.

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