Investment in technological innovation can transform service delivery and working lives, improving user satisfaction and enhancing employee engagement. Examples of this are described below:
Digital X-Ray transmission
"PACS" (Picture Archiving and Communication System) has transformed hospital services. Gone is the need to wait for the big brown envelope with the x-ray film. Today the original image is captured directly into PACS and is scrutinised on screen - wherever the patient is in the hospital, the image is accessible. Doctors can consult colleagues with everyone involved, even if they are in Australia, looking at the same image.
The win-win - Better patient service - no need to wait for the envelope to arrive, and no risk that it is someone else's. Better medical care through the involvement of specialists wherever they are.
Better staff satisfaction - no more frustration that the brown envelope is always in the wrong place, usually at the other end of the hospital. Better clarity of image, enabling more accurate diagnosis.
Better cost control - significant cost reductions reported by the early-implementer sites.
The Virtual Conference Room
While many organisations have some familiarity with "video conferencing", not many have updated the technology - which is developing as quickly as that for mobile phones and television screens. The fuzzy projection onto the wall is a thing of the past, with modern flat-screen images that are so good, participants have been known to reach across to try to shake hands.
The win-win - Staff time travelling to attend meetings - how many hours in the car / train / plane? How much of a carbon footprint? Is your journey really necessary? As with telephones and televisions, teleconferencing costs are coming down.
Dictating into a digital machine enables transmission of those words to any part of the world - including an office at another site in the same organisation - so that the dictation can be transcribed in the evening (flexible working) or morning instead of waiting in a pile.
The win-win - Better customer service through faster response. Better staff satisfaction through removing the frustrating delays. Better cost control.
Many job roles involve coming in first thing in the morning in order to pick up the instructions for the day, or to pick up the paperwork that is going to be needed for the particular job. Now that paperwork, or those instructions, can be sent to the laptop computer or to a handheld device so that the member of staff can go straight to the assignment, without travelling to the office. Similarly, the 'output' from the visit, whether that be a report, or a Form or notes, can be transcribed on the same device and transmitted back without any travel.
The win-win - Better service to the client, by being on site at the start of the day rather than mid morning after going to pick up the papers then traveling to the location. Better staff satisfaction, from achieving more productive time each day rather than numerous trips back and forward to handle paperwork. Better environmental impact, with fewer unnecessary journeys.
Don't forget - Supervision has to be refocused, to concentrate on the quality of outcomes, and with specific plans implemented to ensure individual team members still/meet each other.
The Paperless Office
Instead of everyone who may need to be involved in a specific issue keeping a paper copy of all the relevant documents, these are stored electronically and are made accessible to multiple concurrent users. One organisation which adopted this policy found they could accommodate 30% more staff in the same office space, by clearing out everybody's filing cupboards.
The win-win - Better service to clients, as anyone who can access the computer can access the file, and can therefore give an informed answer. Better space efficiency, better cost control.
Don't forget - the implementation and ongoing management of electronic filing is a specialised function, requiring specialised staff.