ZuidOostZorg switched to a social intranet in 2018. A digital workplace for 2500 employees, with all required options and even more. Information manager Tjeerd van der Schaaf explains how the barely used work environment was replaced by an innovative platform with a special extra layer. “Healthcare is becoming increasingly demanding, so we have to do smart things that make work easier.”
ZuidOostZorg covers fourteen nursing and care homes and a home care department in the southeast of Friesland. “And one in Dokkum as well,” adds Tjeerd. As project leader, he has been closely involved over the past two years with the introduction of a new social intranet.
ZuidOostZorg used their own internal digital working environment, based on a remote desktop server (RDS). “We managed this system from our own data centre, taking care of the maintenance of servers and applications. The team consisted of about six full-time technical people.”
Well-organised, you might say, however the digital workstations facilitated by ZuidOostZorg required a lot of effort. To the 2,500 employees, the working environment hardly provided any added value. The emphasis was on the technical side of the work environment and the practical aspects were disregarded; “There was little time to find out and understand what the health care workers really needed.”
Around 2013 ZuidOostZorg decided to do things differently. “We wanted to create a place where employees could find everything they could really use. In addition, we no longer wanted to worry about technology. We started the road to perfecting the digital working environment, although it would take years to get there.”
As a first step, ZuidOostZorg changed its digital working environment to a cloud service. This gave the in-house team time to deal with other things and the information needs of the organization were closely looked at.
“How to do things now and what do we need? A few crucial decisions were made. In the years that followed, we evaluated, renewed and eventually decided to use SaaS as a model for our core applications, such as our ECD and other core systems that we use in healthcare.”
Parallel to that changeover, the number of applications used by ZuidOostZorg was decreased considerably. “They were fragmented, employees had to work in different systems. We reduced them to a set of core applications, which made it easier for our staff. We went from more than a hundred to around sixty applications.”
When ZuidOostZorg switched from a hierarchical structure to self-organization in 2018, the needs with respect to digital workplaces also changed. ”In our IT roadmap we had already determined that we would take this route. We wanted portals where users are able to start any application and find any document or service they need.”
It was important for the new digital work environment of ZuidOostZorg that employees were able to use a large number of external applications from the platform. Various Microsoft solutions and products from other suppliers were considered. Their main drawback was that they were not quite accessible for users.
When ZuidOostZorg learned about Embrace, they were impressed. “The social intranet immediately appealed to our employees. It is easy to use, people compare it to Facebook. The choice was made quickly.” Step by step, starting from April 2018, the care organisation started replacing its existing intranet with Embrace.
Back to that critical requirement: access to applications from the intranet. “Embrace informed us that they use Liquit Workspace. We didn’t know it, but were enthusiastic when we got to know it.”
Liquit Workspace provides users quick and easy access to all their applications. It doesn’t matter whether those applications are accessed via SaaS, are provided by a server or are on the user’s device. Via a widget, Liquit Workspace is integrated into the social intranet of ZuidOostZorg.
“We wanted to create a situation facilitating employees from their position and their work location. An environment where they find what they need. Liquit is perfect for that. It offers the applications people need for their work on the basis of their profile.”
A special extra feature of Liquit Workspace is that it also functions as an identity provider. This provides ZuidOostZorg extensive single sign-on (SSO) options. “We have spent a long time looking for an affordable, complete web solution that supports SSO. But until recently there was no such solution.”
Liquit Access Manager provided ZuidOostZorg with the SSO solution they were looking for. All non-privacy-sensitive systems used now work with single sign-on. “I believe we are the first customer to have this Liquit SSO solution in production. We’re leading the way in that respect. We have used it since September 2019, and it works very well.’
Just as for the social intranet, ZuidOostZorg ran a pilot for the implementation of Liquit in a proof of concept environment (POC). It called in their partner Netflex. “Netflex joined the project at an early stage. They supervised the POC and guided the transition to go into production, and are still involved in the implementation of support and maintenance around Liquit.”
Netflex assisted ZuidOostZorg to identify the needs of the users, and eventually the healthcare institution was the very first user of Liquit Access Manager. “The implementation was a technological project, and these projects never go as you would expect beforehand. Important are the persons around you, how willing they are to solve problems. Each time they scaled up very well, which is by no means something you can take for granted.”
“It is important to have suppliers that can shift up. There was intensive contact between the Embrace developers and the Netflex people, and we are reaping the benefits. In the end, everything was technologically sound, and the rollout of Liquit went very smoothly.”
In the coming period ZuidOostZorg will look at opportunities to make things even easier for employees. “We first brought in the applications that are used a lot, so that employees immediately noticed that things had improved. At the moment we have reached the more complex applications, and we will try to include them.”
The transition to a new digital working environment is a complex but interesting process, according to Tjeerd. During its development, the final goal does not change, but the means do. “On the way, you have to make different choices than you had thought beforehand.
Our main priority was to make the system easier for employees and facilitate everything in one place. After that we would address the technology. The greatest cost saving is in the technology, but cost saving must not be the underlying motive.”
Tjeerd observes that the new intranet is slowly taking up an important position within ZuidOostZorg. And other healthcare institutions in the area are aware that something is going on.
“Other healthcare organisations regularly ask us if they can come and see how our system works. We are happy to show them. In the end, we all have the same challenges. Healthcare is under increasing pressure, employee shortages have become critical. We need smart solutions to support our colleagues and make their healthcare work easier. That way, we can offer clients better care and that is what it is all about. I am convinced that technology is indispensable.”