The Road Not Taken…Creating A Digital Searchplace!

The Quest For Best Practice!

We knew it wouldn’t be easy. Professionals working in rehab therapy (physiotherapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, kinesiologists etc.) are on a never-ending quest to discover innovations, advice, and insights on best practice. Insights and ideas that will enable them to provide the optimum care and outcomes for their patients and clients.

My business partner (an accomplished physiotherapist) has had a passion for maximizing the potential for her patients, peers and students for her entire career. My career has been in IT, with a similar passion to provide my clients with solutions to help them to maximize their potential in a business setting. In a casual discussion about our careers we soon realized that we both had a strong desire to help change people’s lives for the better. We decided to join forces and challenge ourselves to see how we could utilize innovations in technology to make the “quest for best practice” easier, faster, and better than ever for professionals working in rehab.

And so, our journey and search began. We believed that creating a unique and innovative online community would help us to achieve our vision. Our initial challenge was to research potential software in the marketplace that would help us to build a solution.

We established some high-level and lofty criteria for our search. Our solution needed to

  • Be web-based – no apps to download
  • Be in the cloud – no servers required

– very scalable

  • Enhance inter and intra-professional communication
  • Support one-on-one engagement – private messaging
  • Intuitive to use – no training required (not even a Handbook)
  • Support individual research into best practice
  • Provide enterprise-class technology, security, support and backup

Capitalizing On Digital Workplace S/W
While looking for the ultimate solution we performed a deep dive into the exciting world of digital workplace software. A digital workplace (as described by Gartner research) was one where “engaged employees will enable organizations to capitalize on the creativity of their workforce and deliver better business outcomes.” Hmmm. What if we flipped that on its head and said, “engaged rehab professionals will enable organizations to capitalize on their insights and deliver better patient outcomes?” It looked like we may have found the kind of software to support our vision.

In essence, we asked ourselves if it would be possible to leverage the innovative technology related to a “digital workplace” and pivot this into a “digital searchplace?” We called it a digital searchplace to reflect the fact that our desired solution was one where people can search for answers to challenges and opportunities related to best practice.

It looked like we had discovered a road we could travel down for our journey towards a solution, even though it seemed it was certainly a road not travelled. In fact, the term digital searchplace isn’t even in Wikipedia… yet!

When we further explored the concept of creating a digital searchplace we soon realized that there was indeed a void and need in the marketplace. Our research validated our suspicion that there’s an unmet appetite amongst professionals working in rehab to find an easier and more effective way to connect and engage with each other. Many expressed a feeling of being isolated and disconnected, as well as having a desire and willingness to share their collective wisdom with the community at large.

We also wanted our solution to add value above and beyond the “free” groups that are formed as communities of interest and have forums on Facebook or other sites. We believed that we needed to offer professionals a more sophisticated way to engage with one another other than on Facebook, and to find evidence- based, current information from sources other than Google!

Bottom line? We were confident that using digital workplace software would be a great fit to support our vision of creating an online community. Problem was that there was no off-the-shelf package that would meet our criteria. We needed to innovate and invent a solution. And so we did!

We The North!
We wanted (as proud Canadians) to find a Canadian digital workplace solution provider that could meet our criteria and help us to build and support our online community.

IGLOO Software based out of Kitchener, Ontario seemed to have the secret sauce we needed. They’re a company that focuses exclusively on the intranet and associated digital workplace solutions. They also host their clients’ data and solutions in a secure and reliable Microsoft Azure platform.

This proved to be the case. We used their framework and combined their pre- built modules (designed for their intranet and digital workplace solutions) and created our own unique and customized solution. In fact, in many ways, we developed an extranet solution using their intranet software.

One feature we found invaluable was that the software enabled us to create an overall “global” online community for all our members as well as create a sub-community for organizations or corporations inside the very same platform. This would provide corporate clients with an exclusive Private Community where their stakeholders can engage in a forum, or one-on-one, to exchange ideas and information. It also enabled an organization’s members to reach out to a broader community in a more global scenario.

Their software also supported our need for a subscription-based solution. This gives us the capability to have an online community that will scale and spread easily as our membership base grows.

We decided to name our digital searchplace Rehab Village Canada. The name is meant to convey a sense of place i.e. a village and community where people can gather, inspire each other, exchange ideas and find information. It’s a virtual village that empowers members to collectively share ideas for the greater good… ultimately enhancing outcomes for the patients they serve.

Nothing Improves Without Change
Technology, when used to its full potential, has always been an incredible agent and a catalyst for change. It has the capability to unite people and teams and really focus their efforts to create positive outcomes. For example, the use of innovative technology (digital workplaces/digital searchplaces) by healthcare organizations can be transformative. It can help them to reach their strategic goals of improving communication and engagement by tearing down existing silos between departments and individuals. It can help give people a sense of belonging and that their ideas are respected, encouraged and valued.

Healthcare professionals also understand that lifelong learning is essential to staying current and being prepared to change when new research emerges. And, people involved in physical rehab realize this as much as anyone. The changing landscape of rehab is never ending. For example, with the advent of tele-rehab, and demands being placed on rehab professionals in homecare and long-term care centres, the need to open up new and innovative channels of communication and engagement is unprecedented. Change is everywhere!

Sharing knowledge and empowering people to make more informed practice decisions is mission critical to the growth of both an organization and individual practitioners. Guided by evidence-based recommendations and the expertise of others they can make decisions that can empower them to provide individualized care and throw away cookie cutter treatment. They can do all of this with greater confidence knowing that that their decisions reflect current best practice.

Our journey took us on a road not taken and helped us turn our vision into reality. What’s your vision for leveraging innovative technology in a healthcare setting? How can you be a champion of change in your organization? What can you do to influence others and be a thought-leader in making change happen? I’d like to encourage you to hold on to one thought that will help you to motivate yourself and others on your journey. Nothing improves without change. Take charge and make change happen. Bon voyage and safe travels!

See www.rehabvillage.ca for more information about Rehab Village.

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