Envision IT brings MOSS to Canadian hospitals

Published: May 7th, 2008

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced federal funding for a 15-month pilot project for children in need of surgery last January, the Paediatric Surgical Chiefs of Canada (PSCC) and Toronto’s The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) sought out a solution that would enable collaboration and information-sharing amongst its 16 paediatric health centres located across Canada.

Put into implementation last year, the Wait Time Guarantee pilot project is scheduled for completion at the end of this June and is being conducted in partnership with SickKids and the PSCC, which represents 16 academic health centres in Canada. The project was created to measure the burden of wait times for children who require surgery. Envision IT, a software and integrated products development company and also a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, was eventually selected to deploy and implement a solution for the hospitals using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 as a portal for the project.

Peter Mackenzie, vice-president of sales and marketing at Envision IT, said the solution has since allowed staff members at all 16 member hospitals to collaborate and share documents and information with one another, which he said, was often a challenge to do in the past.

In addition, Joe Seguin, senior consultant at Envision IT, said the company combined its Extranet Module solution with MOSS to enable users to log in and manage their user accounts on an individual basis. Because MOSS 2007 is part of Microsoft’s Office 2007 system, users can collaborate with one another, create portals, conduct searches, create and manage documents, content and workflows, as well as can streamline business processes.

“We created an easy way for administrators to add new users, change their passwords, retrieve them and reset them all without having to go to their IT staff,” Seguin said. “It’s a self-service model.”

Daniela Crivianu-Gaita, chief information officer at SickKids, said the solution is being used to share information among the stakeholders at all 16 paediatric centres so that relevant documents, information and events can be downloaded and viewed across the hospitals. This collaborative capability, she said, helps keep employees better informed about the status of the project.

Now nearing the end of the pilot project, Crivianu-Gaita said the solution so far has been working out very well for the participating hospitals. She said the transferring of data and documents across the hospitals has been relatively easy and seamless for those involved.

“As soon as we went live with the system, we’ve been receiving lots of great feedback across the country,” Crivianu-Gaita said. “It is expected that the 16 paediatric organizations will continue to use the solution in order to collaborate and share information for the benefit of paediatric surgical patients (once the pilot is completed),” she added.

Mackenzie said the solution, which is currently being housed at SickKids, allows for secure site access for users and groups and also provides secure and private document libraries for each research hospital. The other 15 hospitals, he said, access Microsoft’s SharePoint system through a secure SSL encrypted Web site by inputting a user name and password for authentication purposes.

“Security was a prevalent issue,” Mackenzie said. “The solution (had) to allow project administrators to set usage-access privileges so only authorized people could access and view sensitive documents.”

Once the solution was implemented, Mackenzie said all that was needed was just two Microsoft Office Live Meeting training sessions to bring staff members up to speed with the solution and several weeks later, he continued, the Wait Time Guarantee project was already well underway.

“The SharePoint system has proven to be the technological solution that best addressed our needs,” Crivianu-Gaita said.

Elizabeth Caley, group product manager at Microsoft Canada, said MOSS 2007 has been one of the fastest growing releases worldwide for the company to date and she notes that there are currently over 65 partners actively deploying this solution across the country.

“What Envision IT has done has been a heartwarming project and we’re excited about this,” Caley said. “We see SharePoint at the hub of our business productivity solutions. It’s one of the things you can get up and running very quickly.”

Mackenzie said Envision IT’s success with the SickKids pilot-project solution has been phenomenal and since its implementation, the company and its solution with MOSS, he added, has created interest from other clients both inside and out of the healthcare sector.

“If (partners) are able to find a piece of functionality lacking in SharePoint that clients could benefit from, such as our ­Extranet Module, then (they) can create a solution that differentiates (themselves) to their clients,” he said. “We feel our solution was what a lot of companies were looking for and since then, we’ve been having great success with it,” he added.