Northwell Health links employees with comprehensive mobile app

The health system uses myNorthwell app to communicate with employees and create specialized communications for segmented groups.
By Bill Siwicki
08:57 AM
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Northwell Health app for employees

A screensnap of the myNorthwell app for employees. Credit: iTunes

There are millions of employees in the healthcare industry, most of whom work in disparate areas and are anything but deskbound – which can challenge an organization's internal communications strategy when it comes to relaying information in a timely manner.

While effective communications are critical in all industries, it plays an exceptionally important role in healthcare, since the health and safety of patients are at stake. 

One of the largest hospital systems in the country, Northwell Health, with 61,000 employees, struggled to find a solution to these industry-wide communications challenges. Until it explored the mobile technology route, and ultimately decided on an app to help bring its tens of thousands of workers together.

[Also: Northwell VP: Patients are demanding telehealth today]

Within the first three months of launching myNorthwell in late 2016, more than 11,000 employees had downloaded the app and were actively engaging with the content, reported Tom Sclafani, vice president of internal communications at Northwell Health. Today, approximately one-third of the workforce has the app downloaded on their devices, and the app receives millions of clicks per year.

"Like anything, our app is a work in progress and as we continue to refine our content and channel strategies, the app will continue to evolve," Sclafani said. "However, as our workforce shifts to include more and more millennials, we anticipate that the app will play an important role in our overall mix of channels."

[Also: Kaleida Health integrates IoT wayfinding app with EHR to bolster patient experience]

Northwell Health turned to APPrise Mobile, an employee mobile communications technology vendor, to build the app. There are many similar companies with such tools on the market, including Beekeeper, EmployeeChannel, GuideSpark, Jostle, Playerlync, SnapComms and Workplace by Facebook. Additionally, healthcare organizations can hire mobile app developers or use in-house talent to build an app from the ground up.

By integrating myNorthwell into its business strategy, Northwell Health has seen increased engagement of two-way communication among hospital employees. MyNorthwell incorporates surveys and polls into the company's Facebook-like news feed as a means to engage its 61,000 employees for their feedback, with prizes and other free promotions offered to keep them coming back.

The app also affords easier access to employee tools and portals. The myNorthwell app is flexible enough to include a variety of communications tools and linkage to existing workplace portals, such as the human resources self-service portal.

"Our app metrics show that employees appreciate the functionality of the app," Sclafani said. "They are accessing the app to clock into work via Kronos timekeeping and to check their paycheck in the HR self-service portal. In addition, the news feed is heavily utilized, with some items getting upwards of 5,000 clicks."

And the app's ability to segment user groups enables Northwell to send targeted communications, and Northwell has used this functionality for a range of targeted groups, including nurses and employees in specific sites or regions. Northwell also has a targeted section of the app specifically for leaders to reinforce its leader communication strategy.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com