Old tech out, SharePoint in: Life Science Makes Changes

Find out why 65 percent of life sciences are moving from legacy systems to SharePoint

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Old tech out, SharePoint in: LifeScience makes changes

The year 2010 marked the beginning of major changes in the health care industry with the passing of The Affordable Care Act. And, with it came new regulations and technologies mandated by the government that had a profound impact on training and development - perhaps the most massive and complex HR compliance challenge for employers in U.S. history. The changes in information flow and the explosion of digital content that needed to be stored and shared drove the need for a secure IT platform through which hospitals could support collaboration and information exchange. This explains why 65 percent of life sciences are moving from legacy systems to SharePoint.

Why Life Sciences Use SharePoint for Training

The reasons for this shift are clearly evident – content management, compliance and improved collaboration are too critical to the success of health care companies to rely on old legacy systems.

Every day, every document, and every dollar matters when you’re in the business of solving the world’s most pressing health care challenges. You need more than just compliance — you need streamlined, collaborative processes, from testing and quality control to customer relationship management, sales and distribution.

Content Management for Training and Development

Health care remains one of the few industries that relies on paper records. But, one of the big changes resulting from The Affordable Care Act is that communications must now be in digital format and secure. Using electronic health records is intended to reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, cut costs, reduce medical errors and most importantly, improve the quality of care.

Just think of all the thousands of documents floating through a health care organization. One of SharePoint’s key uses within the health care industry is for the management of regulated content in a validated system, a requirement in clinical trials and other activities in this industry.

SharePoint Essentials for Successful CFR-21, Part 11 Compliance

CFR-21, Part 11 is a regulation set forth by the FDA that must be followed in regards to electronic records and electronic signatures. More specifically, it requires companies to implement controls, including audits, system validations, audit trails, electronic signatures, and documentation for software and systems involved in processing electronic data.

SharePoint 2013 is a browser-based collaboration and document management platform from Microsoft. It has a built in workflow engine and can be configured to meet various business requirements, including electronic document management and records management. SharePoint 2013 is a configurable application and is considered a Category 4 type system as defined in GAMP5.

With the release of SharePoint 2016, additional compliance features will be included such as new data protection tools and monitoring. Also, the In-Place Policy Hold Center and the Document Deletion Policy Center allow you to build your own policies and apply them against your environment.

With the shift to digital records and an increase in compliance regulations, training and development managers will experience a massive surge in eLearning content which can be managed efficiently with SharePoint.

  • Document library – SharePoint provides a centralized and secure place to host everything from image libraries to EMR database, patient scheduling documents and patient billing reports. And, of course, eLearning and SOPs.
  • Customized team workflows and version control reporting – Workflows and version control are a necessity when creating content. SharePoint workflows help orchestrate the progress of training materials through the stages of development while versioning helps learning managers ensure content team members are on the same page, both literally and figuratively. Apply workflows and versioning to a variety of health care issues from pathology lab reports to patient monitoring data and discharge reports.
  • Search – A huge issue related to content management is disorganization. Training materials are located in multiple locations and nobody can find the most recent file. SharePoint solves this problem with advanced search features and metadata. SharePoint can also assist with physician search, patient search, documents and staff directory.
  • Permissions and controlled access - A big benefit of using SharePoint is that it’s directly linked to your active directory. As a result, you can set permissions for each training document that will define who accesses what and where in your SharePoint environment. User permissions are a key point of SharePoint security management.

Health Care Compliance as it relates to Training and Development

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA, was passed by Congress in 1996. This policy set forth industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes; as well as requiring the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.

Health care organizations have faced an uphill challenge complying with HIPAA and the most recent Health Care Act.

  • Security of critical infrastructure - networks, PCs, servers and databases - has become more difficult as many health care organizations extend beyond hospitals to neighborhood clinics, home health providers and off-site services.
  • Information security - millions of patients are at risk for medical and financial identity fraud due to inadequate information security.

A secure IT platform is exactly why 65 percent of life sciences are moving from legacy systems to SharePoint.

In addition, the training and development team have another crucial duty regarding compliance, and that is to teach their staff about the new and updated regulations through eLearning programs.

Having an organized content management system to house eLearning content is essential for any training manager. Those that take it one step further and utilize a CMS that works in synergy with an LMS receive an unparalleled advantage.

For businesses in the health care industry who have strict regulations set forth can benefit from a SharePoint LMS for their training needs.

Trainers don’t have to worry about jumping from one system to another with a SharePoint LMS. The training system is built on top of SharePoint and functions as one of its components. This ensures even better security.

It is imperative that learners stay abreast of the latest rules and regulations. With a SharePoint LMS, it is possible to add even more detail to your training such as e-signatures to courses. This method documents that the learner has acknowledged that they have read and understood the content.

The system can also schedule recurring events automatically for refreshment trainings, schedule additional training requirements with an e-signature and offer comprehensive reports that are very helpful for those companies that must report results to the government. 


One of the top uses for SharePoint in health care is as a team site for projects - simplify, streamline, and automate clinical trial processes via a collaborative platform.

  • Ensure product quality with a closed-loop system for managing deviations, complaints, audit findings, change control and CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Actions).
  • Manage regulatory compliance and submission documents throughout the life cycle using a single, organized and compliant system.  
  • Create truly collaborative team and customer relationships, for smarter collaboration and stronger engagement.

The new era in health care is ‘patient-centered’ which means that a variety of people from doctors and nurses, to insurance and specialty clinics are all involved and work jointly for the benefit of the patient. SharePoint is a great vehicle to collaborate among multiple stakeholders via intranets, extranets, team sites, social and more.

Training and development in the health care industry is unique and comes with specific challenges. That is why many life science companies are moving to SharePoint for its strict compliance features as well as collaboration and document management.

Key Consideration:
Talent Development, SharePoint

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