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A world of efficiency opened up to us
It was there in plain sight on the registration page of MotionTogether, our annual Corporate Social Responsibility project: ‘IT can have a major impact on your organization and the way you do your job.’ “That’s what we need,” thought Hiltje Heijman and Angelique Haringsma of Het Kleine Helden Huis in Rotterdam. How big the impact would be and exactly what this collaboration would mean for business operations, the care provided, job satisfaction and even their own work-life balance - the enthusiastic healthcare entrepreneurs could not have imagined. “An angel landed on our shoulder when we were selected for MotionTogether”.
In 2018, Hiltje and Angelique decided to start Het Kleine Helden Huis [The Little Heroes House] out of the need to improve aftercare for children born prematurely (preterm) and underweight (dysmature) and their families. As a Neonatologist, Angelique was sure that her patients could be better served if medical care for this target group was combined with psychosocial support in one location. Hiltje worked as a Business and Family Coach and had a clear vision: not a dreary hospital setting, but a cozy place where the “little heroes” and their families would be welcome until they turned 18, for care and aftercare on all fronts. “We came up with Het Kleine Helden Huis standing on the sidelines of our children’s soccer field, and then we just went and did it,” says Hiltje, laughing.
Hiltje en Angelique, Het Kleine Helden Huis:
“We believed that with this unique concept, we could really make a difference for thousands of children who had a tough start, so we worked like crazy to make it happen.”
IT was overlooked
In the two years that followed, Hiltje and Angelique worked on their dream. Hiltje: “The house was ready, the team was strong, parents and children knew where to find us, and Het Kleine Helden Huis established itself as a research and knowledge center.” But with the success of their business, the founders also increasingly realized that they had “overlooked” a pretty important component: IT. “We were swamped with paper forms and files, processes were sometimes clumsy and we were spending too much time on administration,” says Angelique. “It really started to become a problem. So the MotionTogether project was really a blessing; it came at exactly the right time.”
Peter de Vries, Strategic Consultant on Modern Work & Security, and his team energetically set to work. The motivation was high – Peter had experienced the added value of Het Kleine Helden Huis himself around the premature birth of his triplets – and there was a lot to do in a short time. In several inventory sessions, the team gathered as much input as possible from Het Kleine Helden Huis.
Hiltje thinks back happily about those first conversations. “For us, that project start alone was so incredibly valuable! As caregivers at heart, we were always completely focused on our clients and we actually thought the rest was mostly just a hassle. Now we had our feet brought to the ground and were forced to put into words very precisely what we do, how we do it, what processes we go through, what could be more efficient, and where we want to go with Het Kleine Helden Huis in the future. We were immediately impressed by the expertise and empathy of the team. With Het Kleine Helden Huis, our world is a small niche. We deal with complex laws and regulations and work with public money, so things can be sensitive. The team was able to get into that super quickly and came up with good questions and smart suggestions for improvement right away.”
“As caregivers at heart, we’d always been completely focused on our clients and we actually thought the rest was mostly just a hassle.”
Saving time, money and energy
Hiltje, Angelique and the rest of the team at Het Kleine Helden Huis laid out all their wishes and were pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be possible. “A world of efficiency opened up to us. Suddenly we understood that almost everything we were doing manually and on paper for years could be digitalized. That we could use client data easily and securely for research and to improve our care. That we could work better together as professionals and share more knowledge, and that we were going to save time, money and energy – which would all ultimately benefit the children and their families. It was a fantastic prospect.”
Before that happened, there was a mountain of work to be done. Our team worked in sprints to translate processes and data into IT solutions. In addition to SharePoint, the CRM recently implemented at Het Kleine Helden Huis was an important resource to determine the IT architecture and governance. Two processes were set up. The first process was aimed at understanding the data and processes and automating/digitalizing them as much as possible. This process also included generating reports around finances and clients based on data from Power-BI and Het Kleine Helden Huis’s own CRM.
“Working with data from healthcare clients requires a special approach to data processing and storage,” says Peter de Vries. “The data in reports, surveys and research sources must not be traceable to individuals, so that made this part an extra challenge for us. In the end, not all the scenarios that had been prepared were realized, but we did lay down a good foundation, with a clear and user-friendly dashboard.”
Working and cooperating efficiently
At the same time, the team worked on the second process: internal workflow and collaboration optimization. With Office 365, Teams, SharePoint and Exchange, a comprehensive portal was created for discussion, collaboration, providing information and sharing knowledge. Teams became the central workspace for the 15 staff members and about 20 volunteers at Het Kleine Helden Huis, and the team created an easily accessible online booking system for reserving treatment rooms.
Finally, the team set up a comprehensive knowledge center with instructions around all the IT systems and processes and provided training and 1-on-1 sessions for all users. Angelique: “For us, it was really great that the whole project was done in such a short time: we started in September and in February we went live and could get the whole jumble out of our heads right away.”
The missing link
By putting the new IT solutions into use, not only has the efficiency of care at Het Kleine Helden Huis increased, but also the job satisfaction of employees and management. Hiltje: “Our professionals have more control and oversight and demonstrably have more time for their clients. Angelique and I finally have time to work on our ambitions for the future of Het Kleine Helden Huis. We would very much like to offer this unique care concept in many more places but, until now, digitalization has always been the missing link and we didn’t get further than nice plans. The scalability of our new IT solutions means that now we can really get to work on expansion.”
According to Hiltje, another important benefit is that Het Kleine Helden Huis can now demonstrate to the outside world that digital innovation can provide many gains for healthcare institutions. “IT often still goes neglected in our industry. Many organizations do want to automate, but they only get paid by the government for client contacts. IT investments come at the expense of the client support budget, and that budget is already limited. With the results of the MotionTogether project, we can now show our client - the Municipality of Rotterdam - how much there is to gain in efficiency when you have a good IT system in place. All the extra staff you have to hire for administration and all the treatment hours lost to paperwork are ultimately many times more expensive than starting up a good IT environment. Not every organization is lucky enough to be selected for a MotionTogether project, which is why we hope, seeing the results at Het Kleine Helden Huis, that the Municipality will stimulate and support healthcare institutions, for example with a start-up investment in much-needed digitalization.”
“Our professionals have more control and oversight and demonstrably have more time for their clients.”
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