When Sentara Healthcare, a regional health care provider in North Carolina and Virginia, started thinking about networking and collaboration, they faced a huge hurdle: their employees were spread out over 80 facilities.
Since many health care employees spend most of their day on the move, with little time at a desk in front of a PC, Sentara knew that a top-down approach would draw little interest. Sure, collaboration could help them share information across their organization, but it had to represent a way of making work easier, not more of a burden for employees.
Sentara started small. One of its most successful implementations of a collaborative platform involved a project where they were shifting from paper to digital records. Each paper document had to go through a series of approvals and checks before it became a purely electronic entity, and the process could be slow and cumbersome. Worse, many of the records were live records, meaning that they needed to be available during the approval process.
With the collaborative platform from SiteScape driving this project, employees were able to access a shared space that showed them exactly where a document was and who was looking at it. If someone needs to access a record, they knew exactly where to go.
Will projects like these translate into organization-wide adoption? Yes, eventually, said Phillip Lanzafame, Sentaras director e-business, but its a subtle process. He pointed to email as a case in point. Everyone uses email to collaborate because its something they know.
Moving Past Email
Email is really good for messaging and sending an attachment or two, but its terrible for auditing, durability and security, Lanzafame said. Theres no control. Theres no way to pull things back.
In a health care setting where regulations like HIPPA apply, organizations are required by law to find better and more secure methods of collaboration. Lanzafame uses that to his advantage, flagging workflows being handled via email that shouldnt.
When I get an email with sixteen attachments, I tell people that this is not an email task, he says.
He makes the same case where privacy is concerned. He then points people to the collaborative space and shows them how to post their documents, followed by sending out an email with links. It save bandwidth and it gives us, as an organization, control over that document, he said. The employee never has to think about privacy or control because its built into the platform. The key to all of this is making the transition as easy as possible, minus the boring training sessions, the top-down mandates, and the long, disruptive implementation and data migration cycles.
People arent clamoring for collaborative spaces, said Andy Fox, CTO of SiteScape. What they want is a better method for getting projects done. Giving them a personal networking space is just an on-ramp to collaboration, but from there, you can move to team projects and then to enterprise-wide collaboration.