The right staff is critical to Patient Satisfaction and Quality Initiatives at any hospital. However, depending on which study you read, employee turnover typically hovers somewhere around 20%. A hospital’s intranet is an ideal avenue to set the tone for the positive corporate culture of the hospital. Not only do today’s intranets allow two-way communication with social features such as commenting and blogging, but they also represent an avenue for staff recognition in addition to administrative information sharing that has traditionally been at the core of internal communication. HospitalPortal has formulated this list to present ways you can use your hospital intranet to keep your staff engaged.
#1 Authorship = Ownership
In the words of Brian Lee, renowned author and speaker on healthcare service excellence and friend of HospitalPortal, “A fundamental principle of engagement is that authorship equals ownership. Get staff involved in implementing and authoring whatever you are going to do. They will be captivated not just with their heads, but with their hearts and become true owners of the initiative.”
Use the types of social features your staff uses every day in their personal lives to contribute to the intranet. It could be as simple as a comment or more in-depth with a blog or allowing staff the ability to author their own profiles including personal interests along with specialized skills.
#2 Reel Them in
Many of the best intranets read like the headline news—interesting articles and announcements on the welcome page can grab staff’s attention when their initial intent was something mundane like completing a day off request or benefits paperwork. Personal storytelling can bind employees to the organization like few other types of communication. Every hospital is home to many stories, whether funny, moving, or heroic. Share these stories with staff members to help them understand that they are an important part of something special.
Also, what is the water-cooler chatter? If someone just got engaged or had a baby, post a note of congratulations. Is the local sports team having a great season? Post updates or photos of staff in team gear. Is there an organization or cause that employees support? Set up a forum for that, too. A forum could involve collecting needed items for a family who just had a house fire, starting a team for an upcoming walk for cancer, or promoting an event to swab potential donors for bone marrow matches.
#3 Make it Fun
Contests and tongue-in-cheek games offer an innovative way to create community. Naming games, photo contests, and scavenger hunts can be employed as ways to unleash employees’ friendly-but-competitive nature. A newer trend is to allow staff to earn badges for accomplishments. “We incorporate fun into our intranet with the Weekly Photo Corner. Typical photos include employees and fundraiser events,” says Jill Myers, Web and multimedia manager at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, MD. “It is important to remember that the intranet is never finished; it should be different every day.”
Today almost everyone shares personal funny anecdotes and videos electronically. Innovative hospitals are taking the same approach with candid impromptu snippets to more orchestrated video blogs to strengthen organizational bonds in a way that transcends the newsletter of old. “After producing an in-house training video demonstrating the ‘Teach Back’ method, we also included a bloopers video on the intranet,” says Myers.
#4 Keep it Simple
The fewer clicks required to access desired content, the better. Consistent page layouts help, and usability testing can point the way to additional improvement. Instead of a long list of hyperlinks, use graphics when appropriate. None of these tactics is a substitute for a robust search engine. For optimal usability, the intranet search engine should index not only document titles, but all content, keywords, as well as other entries such as class descriptions in calendar items.
“Simple tools such as our new Census Board have had unexpected impacts across the organization,” says Stacy Speidel, systems administrator at Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant, IA. “Nontechnical environmental services staff can get to [the census board] in three clicks to quickly see critical room and bed information – isolation history, clean/dirty status, and much more.” Speidel adds that benefits range from infection control improvements to increased operational efficiency as well as building computer comfort of much of the previously non-tech savvy staff.
#5 Usability is King
Make it easy for staff to easily find what they are looking for by using consistent page templates. Keep key elements such as the search box, FAQs, resources, and calendars in the same location from page to page. Test usability with staff to ensure that navigation is intuitive and clear. In healthcare, saving a minute can save a life, so designing the intranet to allow staff to quickly get what they need is critical.
Be sure to use staff feedback and needs when laying out content. As employees what is the information they constantly find themselves looking for and post that on a departmental page as a key resource. Another key innovation is to personalize the user experience. When a nurse logs in, present a nursing-specific home page with required classes and links to key resources and education; when a board member logs in, present a board member home page with information such as meeting agendas, minutes, and archives.