I’m at one of our inaugural medical missions in Madagascar and nearly 1,000 Malagasy with a cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformity have traveled hours or sometimes even days to our mission site in hopes of receiving a life-altering surgery. 150 or so will get surgery on this mission. The majority of this massive turnout for screening will undergo comprehensive clinical consultations to confirm that they are healthy enough to have surgery. The rest will be provided information on our next mission here and encouraged to come back.
I meet one of the lucky ones who were prioritized for surgery, a 12-year-old with a bilateral cleft lip. Post-surgery, we chat through an interpreter as I try to understand the impact of this surgery on his life. I’m surprised that he’s not most excited about now being able to attend school or even play with the other children in his village. What he’s most thankful for, instead, is that now he can purse his lips and blow, so he can make a fire to keep him and his baby sister warm at night. This is just one example of the personal impact Operation Smile brings to families around the world every day.
36 years old and with several hundred thousand safe and effective surgeries delivered, Operation Smile is committed to taking care of every child and adult with a cleft. We believe that it is both our responsibility and our privilege to care for those born with these conditions. We further realize that, if we do not, there is no guarantee that anyone else will. In fact, some will die before we can reach them. Our commitment is boundless. The resulting sense of urgency drives us to constantly reinvent ourselves to do more with less. But how?
Technology has proven a compelling component of our strategy to extend our reach. While not the only answer, technology can be an important force multiplier, enabling everyone’s contribution to be realized. The problem we address is a global one and ours is a global workforce. Most of our workforce comprises volunteers with professional medical jobs by day. It is crucial that we keep all our employees and our volunteers on the same page with respect to program planning, mission execution, and the massive amount of logistical support required to provide more than 21,000 patients with surgery and dental care each year. It is equally important to tell a timely story of the number of lives we touch and the impact we deliver. These tasks are challenging.
"Microsoft’s generous donations and support enable greater efficiencies so that we can continue to find new ways to do more with less"
Microsoft’s Office 365 provides the platform that helps us keep our team focused on the same goals and working effectively together even though we are geographically dispersed and even when members of our team are hampered by limits on connectivity. Most of our patients and many of our volunteers live beyond the last mile of a reliable internet. The power of O365 to support both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration is the key. And given the ubiquitous nature of Microsoft products, we experience minimal learning curve with most O365 tools, even in the low and middle-income countries where we conduct missions and operate our comprehensive cleft care centers. So, what are some specific ways we leverage Office 365 and other Microsoft solutions:
• SharePoint allows us to connect personnel from HQ to program country, so they can plan and complete activities ranging from host hospital site visits to mission execution to mission wrap-up and impact analysis, saving us valuable time and money.
• Azure cloud services provide a secure and globally accessible storage solution enabling us to keep track of the entirety of each patient’s life cycle of treatment while maintaining compliance with numerous country specific privacy regulations.
• SharePoint and Power BI provide the basis for surgical outcomes evaluation through which we evaluate the overall quality and efficacy of each surgery, providing invaluable performance feedback to surgeon volunteers, while bolstering our commitment to the best possible surgical results.
• Microsoft Teams provide both online and offline collaboration that allows us to bring dispersed teams together to streamline project management for initiatives from our organizational cultural committee to various IT initiatives.
• The combination of Skype for Business and Skype provides the basis for an integrated global communications system connecting our employees and volunteers around the world with voice, teleconferencing and desktop sharing solutions.
• Excel with SharePoint and OneDrive provide a powerful operations and analytics capability for functions as diverse as patient registry and global financial analysis.
The combination of compassionate care and robust technology is powerful. The Operation Smile and Microsoft relationship is strong. Every day, somewhere around the world, Operation Smile volunteer medical teams are changing lives. Microsoft’s generous donations and support enable greater efficiencies so that we can continue to find new ways to do more with less And saying we can do more has deep meaning to us, because we are talking about children.