As the communications consultant for the midwives association of Eindhoven, I advise them on their communication processes, both internally and externally. In order to provide the best possible care for their clients, it is important that communication flows smoothly and quickly, as this involves procedures and guidelines for perinatal care. Internally the midwives need to communicate with each other in order to discuss and agree on the guidelines and protocols. Externally, they need to inform the general public and their healthcare partners (doctors, hospitals and diagnosticians) about their procedures and the services they provide. To date, this has resulted in the implementation of Podio (an online collaboration tool) for their association, and the development of a new website, to be launched in January 2014.
Midwives in The Netherlands (those in private practice) are required to be members of an association in the city or area they operate in. Here they collaborate in order to provide quality care for their clients, and to ensure the highest standards of healthcare and safety. They do this by discussing and agreeing on the protocols and guidelines to be followed in their profession, as well as by the healthcare partners they work with. The association in Eindhoven has about 50 members in 8 different practices.
As medical professionals, the members of the association focus on healthcare for their clients. As such, they decided to hire an expert to advise them on their communication processes. I was selected on the basis of my prior working experience with one of the practices in this region. This provided me with a good understanding of the Dutch healthcare system.
The first step in this project was to identify the specific communication needs of the association. As an external consultant, I was able to ask the right questions and guide the midwives to finding the key communication processes and pieces of information that form the basis of their organisation. Once these were identified, they were separated into internal and external processes, enabling us to allocate them to the collaboration tool, or to the external website.
After identifying the internal communication processes, I investigated the possible collaboration tools that could be used. Podio was chosen, as it is able to fulfill all the requirements (both presently and in the foreseeable future). Once Podio was configured for the client's specific needs, a pilot group was selected to start using the system, and to identify any changes required before launching it to the rest of the association. This pilot group was trained in the use of Podio. Due to budget constraints, the pilot group would train the other members of the association. Once this pilot phase was concluded, the other members of the association were invited into the system.
The development of the external website of the association is still in progress, and is expected to launch in January 2014.
I was engaged by the association as an independent consultant. In this capacity, I managed the entire process, from the identification of the client's specific needs, to the implementation of the website and the collaboration tool. As an experienced Podio user, I also configured the system, and instructed the client on adapting the system further to their needs.