By Jen Sweeney
While institutions in the public and private sectors have begun to work toward fully digitizing their entire organizations, many in healthcare have only just begun their digital transformations. Experts point to several challenges that have been holding healthcare back—managing the many stakeholders, complying with regulations and ensuring privacy, among others.
But one of the greatest challenges for healthcare organizations is letting go of myths—that they need to “go big” before they can achieve anything and that patients want bells and whistles. According to McKinsey Research, patients want the basics like efficiency, better access to information, integration with other channels, and the ability to connect with a real person if they cannot get what they need from the digital service.
An overhaul is not required to meet those expectations, nor is special software. Small efforts made today with Office 365 can deliver valuable gains tomorrow. Here are three ways organizations can use Office 365 to transform their operationsi:
1. Improve collaboration
Collaboration is already a challenge within organizations that typically have one or two locations. Meeting in person takes coordination, and waiting on email responses is no longer sufficient with the pace of business today. Popping by a desk is problematic, too—it requires availability and proximity.
These challenges are multiplied in healthcare, where organizations are often spread out over dozens of locations and where many employees spend much of their workday somewhere other than at a desk. The stakes are also higher. Poor collaboration and coordination—between and among healthcare organizations’ clinical workers and knowledge workers—directly affects the lives of patients.
By using Office 365’s collaboration tools, healthcare organizations can radically change how work is done. With Skype, setting up meetings becomes effortless and no longer requires hours of coordinating dozens of schedules. Employees can quickly and efficiently resolve issues using real-time availability and instant messaging—instead of walking from one department to another only to find the person they need is unavailable.
2. Enable mobility
In healthcare, a significant part of the workforce is mobile—not only between sites, but also within them. With Office 365 mobile apps, such as Word Online, SharePoint Online, Outlook, Skype and others, healthcare workers have quick and secure access to current information the moment they need it. Mobility increases worker productivity and efficiency by reducing time spent tracking down information or waiting for email responses. Mobility can also improve the quality of patient care. When providers have instant access to current patient records, they spend less time searching for information, and more time making informed decisions about care.
In a study published in 2016, researchers found that use of mobile devices by healthcare providers had a positive impact on patients in several ways: It improved patient communication, patient education, the patient’s perception of the provider, and the time providers spent interacting with patients.ii
3. Increase organizational intelligence
With PowerBI and Excel Online, healthcare employees can analyze substantial amounts of data in less time and with less effort. They can easily share insights, trends and other information that can be used to improve patient care and outcomes via SharePoint Online.
Other examples include streamlining approval processes, keeping up with policy and regulatory changes, running patient and employee satisfaction surveys, managing resources, and conducting consultations.
Healthcare organizations may have many challenges to overcome in their digital journeys, but that doesn’t mean gains cannot be made along the way. By taking small but purposeful steps with Office 365, they can begin their transformation and get closer to achieving the longer-term goal of providing the safest, most effective, and patient-centered care.
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[ii] “Impacts of mobile tablet computing on provider productivity, communications, and the process of care” (2016) Schooley, Benjamin et al. International Journal of Medical Informatics, Volume 88, 62–70. http://www.ijmijournal.com/article/S1386-5056(16)30010-7/fulltext