For the healthcare industry, access to big data has allowed everyone to benefit from comprehensive studies and research data that were previously in the hands of individuals operating in isolation. The ability to compare data from thousands of patients and healthcare workers has resulted in vast improvements in patient care and treatment management.
The 21st century healthcare workplace leverages an eco-system of software and devices to provide a first-class patient management experience. Since modern healthcare is delivered by teams rather than individuals, a well-designed Intranet is the expected tool for supporting healthcare teams in delivering and supporting the best possible outcomes for both patient and healthcare worker.
Impact of technology on Healthcare
Technology is so much a part of our daily lives that we often overlook its pervasiveness. As consumers, we use the Internet to research and purchase the goods and services that fill our homes. As employees, we use an Intranet to share information and work more efficiently and productively with team members at our location, and people working remotely. And as patients, when the need arises, we expect it to empower and enable our service providers to assess, diagnose and treat us as quickly as possible to relieve our discomfort and even save our lives.
Yet, like any other workplace, the healthcare industry suffers from:
Lack of communication between departments and administrators
High staff turnover rates
Low staff morale (overworked, understaffed and stressful work environments)
Lack of adequate training and development
Performance issues – in this case, poor patient experiences undermined by lack of communication and stressed workforce planning
How Intranets improve the healthcare industry
Within the healthcare industry, the primary benefit of a well-defined and well-designed Intranet is the:
Facilitation of communication between departments, that may also be geographically isolated from each other
Delivery of a unified platform for access to operational content, directly affecting patient management and improving team communication
Cost reduction through movement towards a digital workplace
Simplification of the provision of training courses, and
Increased interaction between staff, and ultimately, the delivery of quality patient outcomes.
You should expect the following improvements from the deployment of an Intranet within your healthcare workplace:
1. Better communication between teams
While it could be argued, communication is critical for all workplaces. The lack of communication is the fundamental ingredient as too why there are failed projects and strategies across many organizations. Within the healthcare environment it can literally mean the difference between continuity of wellness or something more devastating.
Inside a healthcare operation, whether it’s a hospital, medical center or aged care facility, employees usually work in small teams of specialized experts who possess a wide variety of skill sets. Each department or team has a role to play in the care of the patient, with the overarching goal being a successful, quality outcome. Internal communication delivered by an Intranet, facilitates the flow of information throughout all tiers of the organization and leads to better service delivery and patient care. With the advent of electronic medical records and the digital hospital, healthcare teams have instant access to a single source of patient information and the ability to communicate with other teams about prior or proposed patient care.
Video source: What is a Digital Hospital?
2. Reducing staff turnover and improving morale
It’s a fact that we live in an age of instant gratification. Once considered a stigma, “job-hopping” has become common amongst Generation Y/Z in the search for job satisfaction. When staff feel frustrated by a lack of communication and support, both engagement and morale are affected. In the healthcare setting this can have disastrous repercussions for patients, where the institution also suffers. In any industry, employees who feel undervalued and isolated eventually begin to look elsewhere to achieve satisfaction. This also affects the morale of other employees who are left behind.
When employees are separated from each other in specialised departments, as is the case within most healthcare environments where staff usually have no frequent interaction with each other, communication is difficult under these circumstances and a silo mentality can begin to thrive.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that despite there being around 29 million nurses worldwide in 2013, an additional one million will be needed by 2020. The healthcare industry is already dealing with nursing shortages, making the need for a collaborative and engaging internal communication model for Employee engagement an even greater necessity. Further, a recent study identified that 80 percent of the U.S. workforce reported feeling stressed because of ineffective company communication, a 30 percent jump from just one year ago. Also, 63 percent say that they are ready to quit their jobs, and 70 percent feel overwhelmed because of broken communication methods and fragmented information.
Building a strong organizational culture is paramount to achieving a high level of staff engagement, which not only reduces existing staff turnover, but also attracts motivated and talented recruits. Effective and consistent communication is also necessary if an organization hopes to attract and retain top performers. This reinforces staff engagement and collaboration across the wider organization, leading to increased team performance and role satisfaction.
3. Training and development
In any workplace, especially within the healthcare industry, there is a great need to keep abreast of changes in technology, operational procedures and industry best practice.
Encouraging ongoing learning is a key method of engaging employees and increasing job satisfaction.
An Intranet-based training program is the ideal way to onboard new staff and update the skills and knowledge of existing staff members. For the modern knowledge worker, not all work is performed physically within the workplace and employees are more often expected to work remotely using mobile technologies. Accessing training content within the corporate Intranet facilitates ongoing learning and upskilling of employees. It’s also highly cost-effective when compared with more traditional forms of corporate education.
Mobile Intranet Security
Intranet security is listed as one of the major concerns put forward by organizations who are planning, designing and implementing an Intranet. While standard security practices are followed and enforced, it’s good practice to develop a company policy on the access and use of the organizational Intranet and ensure the key stakeholders review it regularly.
A successful Intranet over time will become a highly-valued asset for the organization, as it drives and influences success and ensures all team members are aligned on corporate strategy.
As such, all users should be monitored to ensure protocols are maintained and secure.