With all of the reports of information breaches swirling around in the news recently, healthcare providers are constantly on the lookout for new threats and vulnerabilities and finding new ways to secure the patient data that they have. This is especially important given that there are all kinds of regulations that govern the healthcare industry such as HIPPA, The HITECH Act, chain of custody and many others. Fortunately, SharePoint is able to assist hospitals, doctors and clinical service providers in keeping patient data secure and expediting a lot of processes along the way. Let’s take a closer look at the healthcare IT solutions provided by SharePoint.
SharePoint will foster collaboration between your employees with an intranet that will improve overall staff efficiency, increase staff engagement and the quality of patient care. While some of the features that are listed below might be included out-of-the-box, they can be installed with custom SharePoint development. These features and benefits include:
Streamlining internal processes – If you have been struggling with such things as budget approval, worker hours and activity tracking, asset management, and many other processes, SharePoint might be useful for you taking the pain out them. Doctors can access the internal website on the go via mobile devices to approve patient requests and make amendments to the overall treatment plan thus increases efficiency. Nurses can create checklists of things they must perform everyday, link patient names to the assignments, set priorities, calculating an expected time of completion.
Managing events and professional activities – Healthcare specialists are constantly busy and have to juggle things like tracking patient service, planned medical procedures and training, etc. Without some kind of scheduling system, all of these various activities can overlap with each other causing chaos and a loss of productivity. SharePoint includes a calendar where employees can keep track of operations and anything they have on their schedules such as meetings and training and any other event. They are also able to talk with each other about theses events inside SharePoint and make plans on how to celebrate them. Also, it can replace your current staff rotation tool by creating on-call scheduling calendars or any other calendar of your choice to account for unexpected adjustments and alert colleagues.
Staying up with the latest – SharePoint contains statements and important notifications making sure that employees are always aware of the latest news. This includes critical updates such as system outages, updates, and other important events. It is possible to customize the system to display the alerts to look any way you would like including banners and push-notifications on the SharePoint healthcare mobile app. Also, the applications is prudent enough to prevent users from accessing the intranet until they have learned and accepted the information.
Emergency management – You can better manage emergencies by uploading a list of procedures employees need to follow in the event of an emergency. This list can be color-coded and customized to fit your specific needs. SharePoint also offers a directory of emergency contacts that better allow you to communicate with the first responders.
Retaining employees – Since employee turnover is growing in the healthcare industry, you can use SharePoint as a tool that recognizes employees for a job well done. Whether this is a one-time achievement or a lifelong service recognition, employees can file employee recognition nomination forms. The employees that are either nominated or win the award will have a badge displayed next to their name on the intranet.
Up until now, we have looked at all of the things that are possible to do with the intranet. However, the extranet offers a lot of functionalities as well and could replace phone calls for communication. Such a unified collaboration space makes all communication between healthcare providers as transparent as possible which is very useful for companies’ communications. In addition to everything mentioned above, SharePoint offers you:
- A unified knowledge base on the ever-changing needs in medical supplies, allowing suppliers to sharp urgently
- Lightning-faced information sharing between all parties involved to monitor the overall course of treatment if the patient is being treated at multiple facilities
- Display any announcements all participants must be aware of
- Getting Organized
Managing all of your documents has never been so easy and secure. There will be a detailed trail of all the locations of your documents along with streamlining processes such as:
- Organizing all of your content – You can create a central location that includes all of your documents such as health forms, contracts, notes from doctors, etc. Images such as X-rays, ultrasounds and PET scans can be stored inside SharePoint as well.
- Creating standard documents – This includes things like admission and consent forms which can be created via templates and clauses libraries.
- High-level security – SharePoint offers comprehensive security of confidential patient information. This is done through various versioning, backups, two-factor authentication, data encryption, and other security measures. Also, the document retention policy can be customized inside SharePoint to comply with government regulations and your individual preferences.
- Enhanced search capabilities – Search for documents by keywords, meta-data and full-text search across integrated systems.
Navigating Through HIPAA and Other Regulations
In many health organizations, the IT department is responsible for implementing all of the tools needed to manage all of the digital assets that are not included in the employee health record. IT department has a love-hate relationship with SharePoint because, on the one hand, it is a convenient solution where all files can be stored, but on the other hand, they have to adopt third-party technology to improve security. Microsoft has streamlined data security and compliance inside SharePoint Online, therefore IT administrators will be able to find more robust security measures that will be much easier to introduce and manage. Built-in features inside SharePoint (SP) can detect protected health information (PHI) and will prevent this information from being uploaded. Also, Information Rights Management will protect confidential patient information with data encryption to make sure it does not fall into the wrong hands.
Using Power BI in Conjunction with SharePoint
If you are wondering why do companies need a solution like Power BI, we must first understand the reporting capabilities that come out-of-the-box with SharePoint. These include:
Usage Reports – Provide data on how visitors interacted with the SharePoint content. This information will be subdivided into per event mode. The main reports that are included are Most Popular Items and Popularity trends. However, these are only available in SharePoint On-Premise.
Site Usage – This report is available to all users and will include data about unique viewers, total site visitors, and site traffic insights. This report is intended to be a small fragment of very high-level information, without going into details.
Site Activity Web Part – This can be added to any page on the SharePoint site. It will display all of the documents that are being edited, added or deleted on the SP site.
Audit Log Reports – keeps a record of who is opening all documents on any site and their actions with the files themselves. However, not all of the information that is tracked will be available on SharePoint On-Premise and SharePoint Online.
Office 365 Admin Center Reports – This feature can be found on SharePoint Online only. Here you will be able to see application usage on a user-to-user basis, but the information will be limited and will not provide useful insights.
As you can imagine, the built-in features have many limitations. The data obtained might not be what you need to make fast decisions, the detailed information is not the right type of detail, you can not set permission levels and many others. This is where Power BI comes in.
If you have not heard of Power BI, it is a very effective free tool. It is often used by companies to make sense of data by visualizing it. It is much easier to use than instruments such as SSRS and posts dashboards and reports online into any group you want with only a few clicks. Even though there is a Pro version that has even wider functionality, but you should not need the paid account unless you are working on a very complex report.
If you are wondering how this all looks in practice, consider the next scenario: hospitals and other medical organizations require employees to go through appropriate instructions on how to utilize certain tools and perform procedures. A dashboard inside SharePoint has a possibility to create monitoring of the lectures or modules completed. This will allow you to make sure that employee skills remain relevant and you will be using your training budget and resources more effectively by focusing them on the people or departments that need it the most.
Is Power BI Worth a Shot?
You should give Power BI a shot because there is no need to make any financial investments. It will allow you to create customizable and dynamic reports and if you feel that you need more functionality, you can opt for the paid version. The user interface is very sleek and there is no coding or other time-consuming efforts involved in creating reports using the already made visuals or custom made ones. Since Power Bi integrates into SharePoint or any other data source if the data changes the report will be automatically updated to reflect those changes.
Power Bi collects data from lots of different sources which can be both on-premise or cloud-based services. Power BI will always pull the most recent data thanks to automated refresh.
Integrating Power BI into SP.
The most important things you need to measure in SharePoint are how well adoption is going and are your employees engaged. An Office 365 content adoption pack is included inside Power BI which makes it very easy to find any piece of information. This includes the amount of new and returning users which will give you a knowledge of your ROI in using SharePoint. If people don’t actively use SharePoint you can conduct surveys to determine the reasons why and make the necessary improvements.
Perhaps more importantly, if you need to gain a certain metric or you would like to have a custom toolbar in SharePoint, all of this can be done with Power BI.
Limitations of SharePoint
As we have seen from everything above, SharePoint has a lot to offer healthcare organizations, but, like all technology, it comes with its limitations and it is important to know them as well. First of all, you need to be on the lookout for gaps in security. This could be something like misusing or circumventing access permissions in Sharepoint which can lead to HIPPA violations. Also, SharePoint training is necessary, even if you implement only out-of-the-box functionalities. You will need to teach your colleagues all of the functions and capabilities because not everybody can understand the reason for implementing SP. One of the top complaints about SharePoint is that it was implemented because the C-suite insisted on it and everybody else hates it.
In order to avoid this situation, it is a good idea to explain why SharePoint is being implemented, how it will help streamline processes and make sure that utilize the full functionality. Usually, a revolt happens when organizations try to implement a one-size-fits-all approach. If this happens, you need to integrate third-party software to make SP more efficient. SharePoint can be customized to fit your individual needs, but it does take time to do so.
Matching SharePoint for Healthcare
Tons of capabilities that can be offered by SharePoint for healthcare organizations. It streamlines all kinds of processes that enable them to perform their job better. While it is possible to customize SharePoint, it is important to remember that it might require additional software integration to see certain data and reports. Power BI is the best tool in this regard because you can use it to display any metric and create any toolbar that you need. Power Bi is a complete game-changer in this regard.
Remember, there is no point in spending a lot of money on SharePoint if employee usage is really low. In addition to educating employees about SharePoint, you will need to show them that this has the potential to make their daily tasks much easier and eliminate a lot of time-consuming processes. The data that is offered by Power BI is absolutely critical to evaluate whether or not you are getting the right ROI from your SharePoint investment.
As far as compliance with healthcare regulations are concerned, SharePoint can reduce or eliminate a lot of the risk that is associated with transferring patient data both inside and outside the organization. The best part is that SharePoint leaves a paper trail of all the places where patient information was sent and who accessed the information. This will make it much easier to determine who leaked any information in the event of a legal dispute. However, one of the biggest reasons companies use SharePoint for healthcare is that it reduces such risks in the first place. This is one of the biggest advantages that SharePoint has over cloud services such as Google Docs or any other cloud storage.
You will finally be able to eliminate all of the lost time searching for information. Everything will be organized and can be accessed by only the people who have permission. By keeping everything in one place you do not have to remember where each individual item is located. Even if you can not find something right away, there are very handy search functions that support a full-text search. Imagine how difficult it is to manage the health record of a patient who gets treated at multiple locations. This file has to be transferred from one location to another without any data being lost or compromised. Furthermore, if each organization uses its own storage or collaboration system, it could further inhibit collaboration.
With Sharepoint, you know exactly where everything is and if you need another healthcare provider to submit certain information or sign a form, there is no need to turn back to other healthcare IT solutions. The provider will be able to do this right in SharePoint. This saves a lot of time and hassle which ultimately leads to more satisfied employees and patients as well. Sharepoint enables your employees to be happy, which, in turn, will allow them to better serve patients.
When you are first implementing SharePoint for healthcare, be sure to plan out exactly how the entire process will go and consult with a third-party provider if necessary. They might also be able to help you with training to ensure wider adoption and get your efforts off to a good start. The initial planning and implementation processes are critical to the overall success of an adoption. Employees need to see that all of their needs have accounted for and they need to understand that it will simplify their lives to a great degree.