PR Log - Jul 16, 2012 - Communication is a key component to success — especially for a not-for-profit healthcare charitable trust representing two hospitals and a sizeable network of affiliated medical providers.
“In the past, we relied on email, interoffice mail and hard copy to communicate within our vast network,” said Patty Rice, communications and program development manager at LRGHealthcare, located in New Hampshire.
“Staff had to visit our human resources department to pickup important insurance and benefit forms, and when you have 1500+ employees, it is a less than ideal situation. Especially for our offsite staff, some travels taking 45-minutes just to reach the hospital.”
In addition to human resources staff members, Rice said infection control specialists and clinicians shouted the loudest for a more efficient way to communicate. In a 24/7 health care environment, where every minute counts, LRGHealthcare needed a rapid-fire exchange of information among laboratories, administration, imaging departments, patient units and offsite practices.
LRGHealthcare needed a solution that cut down on paper waste and printing costs, while reducing communication time from “it’s coming” to “here it is.” The health system’s former CIO went on a quest for a tool that would meet these demands. His search ended with HospitalPortal.net™. The company, based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., specializes in self-service, custom software and web-based information management systems for hospitals and health systems.
“We chose HospitalPortal’s Intranet because it was easy to build, easy to use and robust enough to do whatever we want to do,” said Red Hutchinson, LRGHealthcare’s former CIO.
LRGHealthcare’s leadership team assembled a 16-person steering committee to make sure the new intranet reflected everyone’s priorities. “It was a team of directors, people from HR and education — anyone with a footprint on the intranet,” said computer educator Tracey Sinclair, who along with Rice was charged with leading the implementation and training other staff members.
During summer 2009, Chris Heinl, HospitalPortal.net’s director of client services, spent three days training Sinclair and other staff. By the time he left, Sinclair was comfortable enough to build each department’s initial landing pages and train department managers to keep their pages updated.
Since LRGHealthcare’s new intranet portal, named Pulse, went live in August 2010, more than 42 network departments are representing online. With a new system-wide tool, the lines of communication have turned into high-speed rails. Instead of calling offsite physician offices, Pulse serves as an immediate bridge for exchanging information.
“Human resource information is the best example,” said Sinclair. “Now, the forms are at your fingertips. You don’t have to pick them up or ask them to send it. Also, the education page offers instant updates on continuing education opportunities, as well as information on patient satisfaction scores and training.”
Since the launch, staff and physicians have increasingly relied on Pulse. On most days, the home page has more than 3,000 hits by 9:30 a.m., including hundreds to the day’s cafeteria menu. “Yesterday, I received four emails asking, ‘can you put this on Pulse?” Rice said. “Everybody knows Pulse is the place to be.”
Aside from informational updates, Rice has also added a creative touch to Pulse’s role, inviting staff to submit their seasonal photos celebrating the beautiful landscape of NH, as well as featuring regular “department spotlights.”
The mix of fun and functionality has earned regional and national accolades. Last year, staff members shared stories on Pulse of what it meant to be a part of the LRGHealthcare’s capital campaign. The series won an award from the New England Society for Healthcare Communications. In June 2012, LRGHealthcare’s intranet was among 500 entries in 18 categories for a national Web Health Award. They won the bronze award in the category for intranet content, design and user experience.
“Pulse boosts morale and adds to our organization’s community feel,” said Rice. “It’s all relative, but we’re also saving on paper and time. If information is ascertained quickly, you’re not taking up time to print it or go get it at an office. Now, most people know to go to Pulse. It’s such a time saver for us, and we can never put a dollar amount on that.”