Portal and Intranet
A coordinated Plone Intranet and public Website for the management of the communication strategies of a National Health Agency - support to distributed editorial offices, centralized control and cistom workflows help the Organization to save money while working better
The “Azienda USL” (National Health Service Agency) of Ferrara is made by six hospitals and three districts encompassing the 26 communes of the Province, and provides services on a total area of 2.632 Kmq.
This implied, and still implies, a significant complexity of the routes to access the services, but also difficulties in the creation of a circle of maintained and shared knowledge – an indispensable premise to develop a sense of belonging in the Agency and a shared vision, in an unfavorable context where operators working in off-center sites and external qualified healthcare providers are not easily involved. Among the critical points, also the diffusion of information of general interest of the Agency, not always timely.
As a consequence, the Azienda USL rethought its website, to develop an efficient circuit of integrated communication. The “Web scenario” that confronted the ICT service and the Communication and Print Services in the first phase of the project (2005) was characterized by lack of structure, non homogenous contents, and lack of responsibility about content production: the ICT service was just responsible of publishing contents, very different in format and nature and provided sparsely by the personnel of various offices and services.
Thanks to its security and authorization system, Plone since the beginning necessitated the definition of roles and responsibility areas, and thus permitted to all the Agency services a full autonomy in Web content insertion, implementation and updating. This allowed the construction of direct communication and information channels between the “owners” and the “recipients” of any news, with an almost complete elimination of mediated information (apart from a Plone workflow including the indispensable validation by the Communication Officete, enforcing an integrated communication strategy for all the contents to be published in the public website)
The decisions taken to achieve the objectives described above proved very effective. They include:
Using the open source LDAP system to verify user’s credentials, both for the access to reserved areas and for the authorization to insert news items. This centralized system was already in use for the e-mail and Internet access management.
Defining a single point for inserting news items: contents are inserted only on the internal (Intranet) website, and, once revised, they may be published on the Intranet or on the public Website. One does not need to insert the same news twice, but only once, with the obvious advantage of time saving and avoiding possible content misalignments.
Delegating content insertion and editing to the heads of the various operational units (offices and services). They are the first and most interested stakeholders in the information completeness and exactness, as long as those aspects are functional to their work.
Limiting a further validation step (in charge to the Communication Office) only to the contents appearing in the Home Page, as long as it may be regarded as the showcase of the Agency.
Besides that, the new system – although based on a single working environment – thanks to a customized workflow allowed the creation of a diversified internal site (Intranet) and public site (Internet), a fundamental distinction to target the two specific audiences with specific contents.
Planned developments include a complete revision of the Intranet, to create a specific environment for the employees, not only aimed at providing information, but also to perform online a series of activities currently managed in non-virtual fashion (consulting payrolls, compiling forms, controlling telephone calls reports...).
Next step, a more extensive implementation of Web communication tools (digital newsletters, blog, forum...) also for the communication by a National Health Agency represents a significant – and not so far – achievement.
Data: August 2012