Why Microsoft Teams For Healthcare?
Microsoft teams is a valuable tool in any organization, but once you start looking at specific use cases, you start to see the real power behind the platform. In this Tech Talk, we go through a full-featured demonstration of what is capable with Teams for Healthcare providers, hospitals, and other medical offices with a special focus on how it enables remote work for non-essential team members in response to COVID 19.
The four biggest benefits recognized by Healthcare organizations adopting Microsoft Teams are:
- HIPAA compliance on any device
- Fast communications
- Centralized access to information
- Brings application access including EHR into a central hub
Healthcare Communications in Microsoft Teams
Teams, at its core is a communication and collaboration platform built for the modern enterprise, and thousands of pages have been written about chat, private messages, and meetings. But it is useful to understand the hierarchy of Teams, Channels, Tabs to understand how to structure your Teams environment. For a more indepth explanation of the structure of groups, teams, and channels and the relationship between Teams and SharePoint, watch the Tech Talk we did with Bob German, one of the architects behind both platforms.
Teams vs Channels
A team in Teams is a working group. It can be a department, a cross functional team, a project group, or any other team of individuals. A team is further broken down into channels. In a healthcare organization, the teams can be departmental, representing Emergency, ICU, Pharmacy, etc, while the channels would be broken into functional teams within those departments, such as intake, nursing, physicians. There is not a one size fits all answer to how the teams should be organized, as it largely depends on how your organization is structured.
Tabs within Channels
Within a channel, there are also tabs. The default Tabs are Posts, Files, and Wiki, however a OneNote is created for every channel as well that can be added in just a few clicks. Tabs are nearly limitless in their functionality. They can also hold docs, SaaS apps, EHR integrations, web sites, or other third party applications giving one click access to the tools and information those teams use the most.
Healthcare Collaboration in Microsoft Teams
While the integration between SharePoint and Teams is almost completely transparent, there are many benefits to the relationship. The biggest of these benefits is the ability to work collaboratively on Office 365 documents, while also maintaining a historic record of the conversations about them. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Instead of sending documents back and forth, an entire team can work in a single document with revision tracking and approvals.
Meetings in Microsoft Teams are incredibly simple to understand, and work just like every other online meeting platform. Book a meeting, click a button, join the meeting. . . (And unlike Zoom, it doesn’t risk credential theft or hemorrhaging patient data)
But beyond that there is so much more.
- Instantly turn a chat or group chat into a video call, moving into screen sharing and even remote support.
- Set meetings to automatically record and transcribe, creating a video that team members can watch later, and even discover using Microsoft search.
- Using Microsoft Security and Compliance center, policies can be set to automatically archive or delete meeting recordings to remain HIPAA compliant.
- Collaboratively work on shared meetings notes before, during, and after the call.
- Present, screen share, and meet from anywhere with your mobile device.
- Create live events to share with thousands of invitees.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) Integrations in MS Teams
Using tabs, it is easy to give one click access to almost any SaaS application including EHR platforms. However, Teams has built in FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), allowing it to quickly integrate with any EHR that used the standard. A number of EHR partners have existing partnerships with Microsoft including:
- Infor Cloverleaf
EHR Interoperability functions enabled with FHIR and Microsoft 365:
- Fetch latest patient data
- Create multiple patient lists in a single channel
- View and sort information displayed about patients with configurable columns.
- Provision the application via Microsoft Teams Template
- Accessibility via Teams app on iOS and Android.
- Support for FHIR DSTU2 and STU3 versions
Power Apps for Healthcare
Power Apps provides a no-code/low-code solution for healthcare workes to create their own applications. In this demo, we show off a simple inventory request application, but the solutions are nearly limitless, from safety reporting to robust emergency response reporting and communications applications. Early in the COVID 19 response period, Microsoft also released a Power Platform application for Crisis Communications that can be set up in just a few hours. One of the great benefits of PowerApps and Power Automate is that applications stay within the purview of the IT staff, assuring them to maintain compliance.
Power BI for Healthcare
PowerBI, Microsoft’s visual business intelligence platform has been around for quite a while, but everyday new functions are being introduced, increasing the ability for organizations to take advantage of their growing amounts of data while lowering the bar to do so. Anything with data can be presented in power BI, from wait times to return visits. Recently, Microsoft has partnered with hundreds of organizations across healthcare, government and the private sector to provide tons of Power BI resources in response to COVID-19.
Microsoft Planner for Healthcare
There are a million to-do apps out there, including Trello, Mondays and ToDoist. None of them offer the built in integration with Microsoft 365, and in turn the compliance frame works to allow task to tie directly to connected EHR platforms and patient data in a HIPAA compliant manner. Planner allows teams and individuals across the organization to manage tasks and projects without jumping from application to application and without the risk of inadvertently leaking data.
By providing HIPPA compliant solutions before staff turns to Shadow IT, Hospital IT and Compliance Teams can pro-actively avoid the liability that occurs when employees turn to their own solutions. Early this year, a security researcher looked at Trello and discovered a problem. Public Trello boards are indexable by search engines, making it very easy to find PII exposed in mis-configured boards. While Trello can be set up securely, if your users are setting them up on their own, you are probably not going to have a good time.
The Teams Mobile Experience for Healthcare
While Teams is a fully featured platform on workstations, where it really shines is in the mobile experience. By setting Mobile Device or Mobile Application management policies with Intune, IT leadership can provide a HIPAA compliant solution that even works on BYOD devices allowing employees to use their own devices, but also allowing for rapid flexibility in operating capacity, allowing new or reassigned workers to be up and running in minutes with mobile devices.
Additionally, there are a few mobile-only features in MS Teams of particular usefulness in Healthcare Teams. The Teams Smart camera allows practitioners to share, mark-up, and discuss imagery right from their mobile devices, with no local device storage, keeping patient data secure.
Voice messages can be sent, and transcribed, reducing the need to stare at a screen while communicating. These messages are managed with the Microsoft 365 security and compliance substrate, meaning they can be archived, deleted and made searchable based on your organizations compliance policies.
Moving your Healthcare Organization to Teams
Agile IT has deep experience in facilitating adoption and change management services for regulated industries including Healthcare, Finance and DOD contractors. We can help deploy, migrate, secure, and provide management consulting to assure a fast, reliable and compliant move to Microsoft Teams. To find out more, contact us.