Collaboration in Healthcare – the Case for SharePoint and Office 365

Avi Pagi
Avi Pagi
October 25, 2018 | Healthcare

The Need for Collaboration in Healthcare

Healthcare is being impacted by a plethora of factors like costs of services, pharmaceuticals, and an increasing number of an uninsured population. Add to that more rigorous regulations are being introduced from different jurisdictions. On the other hand, users of Healthcare systems, now, after having being introduced to digital start-ups such as Amazon, Uber and Google have developed enhanced customer expectations. Under these conditions, the industry has to adopt effective measures to meet these challenges. Streamlining business processes is a distinct area that can have an immediate impact on the delivery of patient care at the same time help private practices and hospitals gain efficiency, limit human errors and achieve profitability.

Information technology (in addition to the effective deployment of human resources) is a successful way to streamlining business processes. Healthcare organizations are implementing digital management systems to enhance access to information. Such management systems effectuate the business processes by improving collaboration between the human resources and different departments. Healthcare organizations are starting to make use of collaboration as a measure to reduce costs and enhance the quality of service provision. Organizations have increased the adoption of collaboration platforms that store patient information and so streamlines their business processes. 

SharePoint and Office 365: Collaboration Enhancing Tools

One such collaboration platform is offered by the Microsoft’s SharePoint. Many healthcare organizations have implemented it for its multiple usages. These usages range from ensuring compliance with regulations by distributing policy updates to sharing patient information and the providing the training and development programs.

In the healthcare industry, the physicians and other medical staff have to collaborate to make value-based, patient-centered health plans. Here, the technology could be used quite effectively to provide them with a secure platform that streamlines their collaboration. 

Healthcare organizations are increasingly using the SharePoint Apps and Add-ins for the list of purposes. For instance, the App is being utilized for a Merit-based Incentive Payment System which provides yearly updates to physicians. SharePoint Apps are also increasingly being deployed to expedite the processes. For instance, they use SharePoint with Microsoft Flow to notify the medical staff of changes in the on-call scheduling or to approve insurance authorizations.

Collaboration Tools

Previously, there were limited ways for the company to structure their collaboration strategies when Microsoft released its key collaboration product: SharePoint On-Premises. Today, the companies are afforded with a range of possibilities when it comes to structuring their collaboration strategies, with the release of Office 365. They can now use the product flexibly as per their team size, the type of collaboration they want to ensure (like team-wide, enterprise-wide, chat based, etc.), the extent of cooperation they can afford to allow, their present capabilities of workflow management, and their allowance for knowledge re-usability.

The companies are afforded with such flexibility through a list of collaborative tools provided by the Microsoft’s Office 365 collaboration kit. Following devices are available for the healthcare companies to enhance their collaboration.

Team sites

Through this tool, users are able to access information through a newsfeed, an activity log, and several document libraries. This tool is widely used because of its efficacy in ensuring collaboration between larger teams so that they can communicate easily, keep a check on team activities, and store important documents and links. This tool also has features for document and workflow management which assist them in executing their tasks effectively. The companies can use this tool as a corporate intranet, an online learning platform, a project management system or a knowledge management solution.

Communication sites

Communication site is another collaboration tool that transcends team borders and gives a collaborative platform for the whole company. The entire community on the home page of SharePoint will be able to access the information published on the communication site. This tool is different from the team site tool in that that the previous one doesn’t constrict the collaboration between teams.

Healthcare organizations can use this tool to publish information for their employees, for instance, as regards best practices to be followed, training sessions and corporate events to be attended, etc. Whatever the healthcare institute deems to be an organization content can be published through this collaborative tool.

Hub sites

Hub sites are intended to combine all the activities going on in the team and communication sites and bring them onto a single platform. Hub sites will render the same style across all associated sites so that it is easier to navigate through them as they are all well-organized.

Outlook Groups

Office 365 Groups have now been expanded to incorporate all the available collaboration tools and so provides ease-of-use to all the employees accessing them. After setting up an Outlook Group, the users are equipped with a set of tools which include a shared Outlook inbox, a shared calendar, a shared document library, a shared OneNote Notebook, a team site and a planner for group task management.

Outlook Groups are a great way to collaborate with external users who are not allowed to get access to team sites. They are a useful tool for those wanting to communicate via emails.

Yammer Groups

Yammer groups are similar to Outlook Groups with a single exception. In Yammer Groups, the shared inbox (in the Outlook Group) transforms into a conversation thread. This collaboration tool assists in file sharing and permits external users to contribute to the collaboration process.

Microsoft Teams for chat based teamwork

This tool will allow the staff to have open channels for collaboration, they could also create a private channel for communication. Teams are integrated with Skype, thereby helps the staff to have audio and video conferences. This sort of collaboration gives way to an environment that is not restricted by organizational hierarchy thus making way for more interested teams.

Skype for Business Online

This tool supports instant messaging, audio, video and web conferencing. As per the subscription, the users could also have added benefits of using other collaboration tools such as file sharing, file storage and emailing.

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