Take Your Intranet to the Next Level

Image of person pressing an elevator's Up buttonMost hospital Web teams focus almost exclusively on communicating with outside audiences – patients, consumers and the media. Web technologies can deliver value to employees as well.

Private websites for employees, also known as intranets, have been around for awhile. You’re probably even thinking, “We have one of those!”

However, it’s not enough to simply have an intranet. Many hospital intranets are little more than a pile of links to various applications. Although that’s important, your intranet should also help you engage and communicate with employees.

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen’s research shows that a well-designed intranet can save a mid-sized organization 5 million dollars per year. Is your intranet providing this level of value? Is there more you could be doing?

At the very least, your intranet should serve as a source of information. But once you achieve that, work on taking your intranet to the next level. Add more capabilities to increase the value it provides.

There are few key areas to focus on as you evolve your intranet.

  • A basic information source: The most basic intranets are a conduit of information for hospital employees. These intranets provide information on daily news and happenings, as well as reference materials such as hospital policies and procedures, form libraries and training manuals. At its most basic, this information is centrally controlled and equally available to anyone with access to the system.
  • Distributed authoring: Intranets that offer distributed authoring enable employees to add and manage content. Once distributed authoring is implemented, the amount of information available grows quickly, which often leads to the addition of roles-based segmentation, meaning users can access only the information that’s necessary and appropriate for their position.
  • Search: Intranets become even more valuable when they help employees find the information they need … and fast. This is one of the easiest ways to generate ROI from your intranet. Adding search technology that allows employees to search information across a wide range of data sources saves everyone time, and saves the organization money in the process.
  • Department-specific functionality: The most sophisticated intranets move beyond being a resource for sharing information and serve as a focused solution to solve specific problems. Examples of this include employee applications for managing benefits, brand asset management systems, systems that help manage the budgeting process, and contract management systems.
  • Collaboration: Much of the current buzz around intranets is in the area of collaboration. Sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0, collaborative intranets offer Web 2.0 capabilities, such as crowdsourcing, ratings and active online collaboration. Employees can use the intranet to post questions and answers, share best practices and policies, and talk about breaking news or research on a topic.

The value intranets provide to the organization increases as more capabilities are added. The Enterprise 2.0 movement has certainly injected new life into the idea of using intranets to improve collaboration.

A major element that’s moving intranets in new directions is mobile devices. While mobile versions of intranets are still rare, we’re starting to see them appear in a growing number of industry-leading intranets. Looking again to Jakob Nielsen’s research, six of the 10 Best Intranets of 2011 included a mobile version , up from only three in 2010’s review. With the incredible growth of smartphones and tablets, mobile applications are certainly a feature that most intranets will be adding in the next few years.

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This entry was posted in Best Practices, eHealth, Industry Trends, Intranet, VitalSite by Ben Dillon. Bookmark the permalink.
Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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