Osnabrück Hospital relies on SharePoint technology for document management

Adaptability and improved integration into the Microsoft-dominated IT landscape tipped the scales in favour of a software changeover

// Digital Transformation, IT Processes and Organisation, IT Technology Consulting

Around 2,500 employees and approx. 100,000 patients per year ensure a very high volume of data at Osnabrück Hospital. Data integrity and availability are particularly important in the day-to-day running of the hospital, as are short reaction times to changes in document control requirements. The software used so far could no longer do this satisfactorily and the hospital's own IT service provider KosIT (integrated as an IT department in the hospital since January 2021) and the quality management department at Osnabrück Hospital decided to rely on Microsoft SharePoint for the future. Particularly the high adaptability of SharePoint to process changes as well as the good connection to other Microsoft components of the clinic's IT tipped the scales in favour of the software. SharePoint experts from the Münster-based IT management consultancy noventum implemented the important project together with the KosIT experts.

Document control and availability are important requirements for hospital IT

The IT department of Osnabrück Hospital, KOS-IT Services GmbH, with its five core teams Infrastructure Team, Application Management, Application Development, User Service and DigitPro, is the centre of the hospital's IT. All hospital processes are reflected in one of the many IT applications, which means that the internal service provider is of great importance for the functioning of the hospital. This also applies to the large number of documents that are generated in the course of patient admission and treatment and whose up-to-dateness and availability are an essential part of the digital service.  

The special software that had long been used for this purpose could no longer satisfactorily cover the increasing requirements of quality management. A corresponding evaluation showed that Microsoft SharePoint software should be used in the future. SharePoint is used with the corresponding infrastructure on premises in the in-house data centre in version 2016, and the corresponding SQL server infrastructure is also provided by KosIT.

The task of the noventum SharePoint consultants was to develop the application in such a way that it could manage the diverse document control in the Osnabrück hospital in accordance with the valid document control concept and map the current workflow fully electronically and paperlessly.

SharePoint introduction with a system

For Ingo Mette, Head of IT at KosIT, the new introduction of SharePoint for data management at the Osnabrück hospitals is a strategically important moment. "With a new technological start, there is always the chance to review processes and even to rethink and redesign routine tasks. In the course of the SharePoint introduction, quality management did just that. “

User stories were used to record the requirements on site. Key users from all areas of the hospital were asked about their user behaviour and their requirements for a future data management system. Following this collection of requirements, the user stories were evaluated according to effort and feasibility and subsequently prioritised together with the customer. This is how the concept was created and the implementation of the SharePoint introduction was planned. "The noventum process model for the iterative introduction of SharePoint projects was a good blueprint for this process," says Ingo Mette, praising the systematic approach of the consultants from Münster.

The digitisation of the complex document management process was based on SharePoint workflows. Precisely fitting workflows and their graphic documentation were developed in workshops. The implementation of the workflows in the system and their regular testing by the hospital's QM department was carried out iteratively by means of prototypes, which were constantly developed further until they finally led to the final solution. The SharePoint graphic interface was adapted to the corporate design of the KOS, which led to an increase in acceptance.

In addition, the implementation of "Plumsail Forms Designer" as a third-party solution was evaluated and subsequently implemented. This made it possible to integrate additional comfort functions that SharePoint could not provide to the desired extent. Among other things, a validity check of the user's entered data or an automatic filling of the validity date of documents should be guaranteed.

Examples of document management in everyday hospital life with Microsoft SharePoint

Following the user stories and adapted to the needs of data management, the following functions, for example, were mapped by SharePoint:

  • Overviews of the documents that can be filtered and grouped by the end user
    • "Show me all the documents for the geriatrics department".
    • "Show me all documents that expire in less than 60 days".
  • Automated target group-addressed presentation of documents
    • "This document is important for departments x and y".
    • "This document is important for the nursing profession".
    • Example: Neurosurgeon N.N. is automatically shown the documents that are most important to her
  • Resubmission process after 90, 60 and 30 days before the document expires with email reminders to individual persons such as the author or to entire groups
  • System-supported approval process of documents from draft status to publication of a document
    • with the possibility to individually enter persons who are to act as "releasers" by using metadata
  • Controllable visibility of documents
    • Only published documents are visible to all employees
    • Documents that are no longer relevant can be deactivated so that they are no longer visible to end users
  • Task planning within the system
    • Tasks distributed by the system, such as the release of a document, are clearly displayed to the responsible persons
  • Performant and intuitive search across all metadata and contents of a document

Data migration and system change require complex migration logic

The replacement of the previously used special software confronted the SharePoint team with some challenging hurdles. Due to rudimentary documentation, the developers accessed the existing database by means of reverse engineering. In order to transfer the data into SharePoint, complex migration logics were developed, which made it possible to transport the data automatically and repeatedly. In the course of this, new document templates were developed and existing documents were standardised as a result. (see also: noventum Transition & Transformation)

Intranet updated with SharePoint

A systematic further development of the intranet on the basis of SharePoint functionalities is planned for a later date, but should be considered in the first steps of the current development. Currently, a contemporary intranet has been implemented with the new SharePoint, which can be used to centrally publish menus, announcements and laws that need to be posted.

Test environment for SharePoint training

A fundamental change of software means a major reorientation for all employees and sometimes requires extensive training, especially for users who are to "actively" operate the new system, i.e. create and modify data. In order not to burden the development of the productive environment with beginner's mistakes, an additional and "authentic" auxiliary environment was installed, which served as a training and teaching platform. This instance will also be used in the future for ideas for further development.

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After the successful introduction of Microsoft SharePoint as the central application for document management at Osnabrück Hospital, KosIT can also use the Microsoft software as a technical starting point for future requirements of its customer. The high costs for licensing, maintenance and support of the replaced software are largely eliminated. The hospital's quality management department, which is in charge of document management, now has a better overview of the managed documents and their status. The system-supported process management and task distribution has also replaced the previous high manual effort. The use of SharePoint opens up many more options for the future, not least because of the smooth connection to other Microsoft components.

noventum consulting

Janik Seitzer

Senior Consultant

noventum consulting

Kai Gräwe

Consultant

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