Who Should Build Your Hospital Intranet?


A road sign showing two opposite directions to turn.
The intranet is a critical piece of your hospital’s infrastructure. It’s typically composed of multiple systems, applications and devices that work in concert to provide your staff with the critical resources they need to work effectively. At the center of this oft-dizzying array of systems is the ‘intranet website.’ Sometimes called an ’employee portal,’ this website is the home base for your employees. It’s where they stay current with recent organizational news and policies. It’s where they find the day’s lunch menu, the CEO’s blog, the most recent vacation policy, contact information for colleagues, links to the other systems and more.

And it’s not just an information radiator; the hospital intranet website is an interactive HR tool as well. Staff use the employee portal to complete online forms, schedule vacation time, manage their benefits, change their address of record, apply for open positions, etc.

Of course, all this is old news to most of us. Many of us have been designing, building and managing such intranet websites for years. But what’s new is the rapidly increasing trend of hospitals looking for partners to host their intranet websites, and even those eager to make them available to employees when outside the corporate firewall.

Once upon a time this very notion of a hosted intranet was anathema to most organizations, and perhaps even to the very definition of an ‘intranet.’ But with the increasing ubiquity of cloud services (including infrastructure as a service), ever-expanding IT workloads, and a geographically dispersed workforce, more and more hospitals are turning to trusted partners like Geonetric to build, manage and host their intranet websites. Let’s look at why this is happening.

Where Developing an Intranet with IT Goes Wrong

In many hospitals, the intranet website is typically ‘owned’ by the marketing, corporate communications or HR departments. This makes a great amount of sense, as these are the groups largely responsible for informing and engaging hospital staff and providers.

What these teams frequently lack, however, are developers and technical staff who can build, maintain and service the intranet website. Our research reveals that typically only the largest regional providers have the budget to staff full-time developers on the marketing team.

Screen shot of Geonetric's 2014 Healthcare Marketing Survey showing types of full time employees on marketing teams.

In practice, this means that the marketing (or other) team either needs to find a qualified partner for their intranet, or lobby their internal IT group to do the work on their behalf.

While an internal IT group can be the right choice for some organizations, exercise caution before heading down this route by default.

In many ways, lobbying your IT group to commit the resources to build, develop and continue to maintain your intranet website can be fraught with difficulty. Sure, you’re ostensibly keeping things in-house…but today’s hospital IT staff have a myriad of other systems to develop, maintain, and secure including mission-critical systems for patient care and hospital finance.

When push comes to shove and your intranet website work isn’t getting done, are you ready to tell your IT department that they should prioritize your new intranet form rather than rolling out the new version of your EHR to qualify for meaningful use dollars? How about hardening the connected devices directly involved in patient care so that they are not vulnerable to remote exploit?

Don’t think you would be competing with such projects for attention? Well, perhaps you wouldn’t… But researchers recently found that thousands of healthcare organizations across the globe have a myriad of urgent problems that need IT’s attention. I suspect the organizations that don’t have them either haven’t looked, or are successfully prioritizing their work…likely at the expense of things like the intranet website.

At the end of the day and given their responsibilities, intranet websites that live on IT teams are seldom the priority and don’t get the attention they need.

This frequently leads to intranets that have gone live, but have been essentially orphaned since launch. While it’s true that not every organization that works with IT will have a moribund intranet website, we hear from enough organizations in precisely these situations and with enough frequency that we’re comfortable calling it a growing trend.

Selecting the Right Partner for Your Hosted Intranet

Your hospital intranet website deserves the continued attention of a team dedicated not just to maintaining useful content, but to developing new features, fixing issues, staying current with emerging security threats across the entire application and hosting stack, and ultimately ensuring the intranet website stays up and available for your users. When selecting a partner for your hosted intranet website, it’s important to partner with someone who understands your needs and how to help you achieve your goals while ensuring your IT group is on board with your choice of vendors for your hosted intranet.

Your Focus: Strategy and Content

When you partner with Geonetric for your intranet website, you’ll focus on your strategy and content while a team of healthcare-specific intranet professionals work with you on design, updates, recommendations, and handling the behind-the-scenes technical tasks required to keep your site current and serving the evolving needs of your organization.

Your IT Team’s Focus: Your Hospital’s Infrastructure

A partnership with Geonetric means that your IT team can focus on their many other priorities without having to invest the attention needed to ensure that your intranet website thrives. They’ll have the assurance that your partnership delivers an intranet website that is securely hosted and maintained by a like-minded team of software developers and IT professionals who work exclusively in healthcare and who understand the security and privacy needs of your organization.

Geonetric’s Focus: Security, Software Development and Helping You Meet Your Goals

A partnership with Geonetric means you’ve got a dedicated intranet team working for your success. From developing the core intranet software, to maintaining a high-availability hosting infrastructure, to designing your forms and providing the content strategy and services you need, your intranet is our priority. Here are some of the reasons why a VitalSite Hosted Intranet is a secure choice for your organization:

  • The new ‘intranet mode’ recently introduced in VitalSite requires visitors to authenticate/log in before any content is served. This means that there are no inadvertent leaks due to administrators applying the wrong permissions to a section or page. Everything except the login page requires authentication.
  • In addition, user accounts can be managed through your existing network single sign-on infrastructure (such as Microsoft Active Directory).  No duplicate account management and automatic login from computers on the hospital network.
  • Additional options for securing your hosted intranet in compliance with your IT department’s unique policies are available.
  • VitalSite Intranet is continually developed by a team of dedicated software developers and testers following best practices for writing secure code.
  • The hosting infrastructure and code undergoes regular penetration testing in order to proactively identify and resolve issues before they ever make it to a hosted intranet.
  • The server software, databases and hardware used to host your intranet website are regularly updated according to vendor guidance for security and performance.
  • New forms are just a phone call away.
  • Expert guidance, recommendations and strategy is always on tap when you need it.

If it’s time to give your hospital intranet some TLC, learn how a partnership with Geonetric can help.

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This entry was posted in Admin Feed, Hosting, Intranet, VitalSite by Michael O'Neill. Bookmark the permalink.
Michael O'Neill

About Michael O'Neill

It’s not often you find a communications professional who is an expert writer, understands the power of social media and has the technical capabilities to embed on and contribute to software development teams. But that’s exactly the background Michael brought with him to Geonetric as the technical communications strategist. From writing eBooks to managing Geonetric’s digital presence, Michael uses his software know how and his marketing savvy to help tell Geonetric’s story through a variety of platforms. This former adjunct professor holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Worcester State College in Massachusetts and completed graduate level coursework at the University of Connecticut. In addition, Michael is also a Certified ScrumMaster, a contributing writer at iBusiness Magazine and a member of the Board of Directors at Gems of Hope. This new dad is known for his high coffee standards and has quite the following around the office when he brings in his favorite craft-roasted beans.

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