How to empower frontline healthcare workers with an intranet

Between mass vaccination efforts and the ongoing demand for care, your patient-facing teams have never been busier. As healthcare workers face new challenges and manage rising workloads, how can you leverage technology to support your frontline teams when they are needed most?

Frontline healthcare workers in hospital

Keeping your frontline connected in the digital age

For many healthcare enterprises, the COVID-19 pandemic has set two major workplace changes into motion at the same time. As frontline employees encountered new challenges and unprecedented workloads, their colleagues in administration and support transitioned to remote work. 

With demand at an all-time high and a disconnect from their newly remote colleagues, burnout might seem inevitable for frontline healthcare teams. While it may be impossible to alleviate all of the stress that comes with performing lifesaving work under tight timelines, leaders can take advantage of digital technology to upgrade their support. 

Just as remote workers may miss having a desk-mate to turn to, studies indicate that isolation and loneliness are becoming increasingly common amongst frontline healthcare teams. Even as they balance demanding caseloads, your employees still need the opportunity to connect with their colleagues and align with your organization's mission. But how can you reach your busiest team members in a way that feels empowering instead of overwhelming?

As the center of your digital workplace, your intranet is uniquely positioned to serve as your frontline teams' lifeline to crucial news and wellbeing resources. Instead of an influx of impersonal emails and irrelevant updates, your intranet gives frontline workers access to the content they care about most, anytime and anywhere.

5 ways to leverage technology to support your frontline

There's no doubt your frontline teams are busy, but that doesn't mean connection should fall by the wayside. Whether they have 5 seconds or 5 minutes, your healthcare intranet can serve as their go-to source for guidance and support. If you're looking to take advantage of next-gen technology to empower your frontline, consider the following:

#1. Mobile apps break down the communications barrier

How do you reach employees who are always on the go? Healthcare workers rarely, if ever, have access to a desktop, so the challenge is finding alternative methods of communication that your employees can engage with.

Instead of waiting for the rare moment your frontline teams have to sit down in front of their laptop, launch a mobile app to ensure everyone can access your intranet from their device of choice. Take mobile experience one step further by introducing push notifications, so that your frontline teams won't miss out on crucial updates. 

"Employees actively contribute content and ideas, and best of all, they share their stories, which reminds us of the great care and great heart that we all share. "

Abigail Santmyer - VP Internal Communications at Commonwealth Care Alliance

#2. Feedback loops will help you benchmark engagement

Your patients are at the heart of every task your workforce completes and watching them thrive is one of your employees' greatest rewards. If you really want to take patient experience to the next level, you need to make sure your frontline teams feel heard. Employees who feel listened to at work are 4.6 times more likely to perform to the best of their abilities. 

Feedback loops are a simple and effective way to amplify every employee voice. Start by using digital forms on your intranet to gather employee insights. Give every user the opportunity to tell you what they feel is missing and what they are looking for in your internal comms strategy. Consider adding a suggestion box to your homepage so users can share new ideas as they come to mind.

#3. Create an ideation portal to empower frontline agency

One of the biggest challenges that frontline workers face is feelings of detachment and isolation in the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this sense of loneliness because healthcare workers often need to physically isolate themselves from their support network.

Help your workforce overcome isolation by encouraging everyone to come together to make your organization even better. Ideation channels provide a digital collaboration space to make sharing ideas effortless and intuitive. Your ideation portal will empower employees to publish their ideas, review their peers' offerings, and vote on their favorites. You can even create a frontline-only hub to engage your employees with firsthand knowledge on patient experience. 

#4. Use your firsthand experience to activate change

Frontline workers have always been susceptible to feelings of isolation. During the transition to remote work, many colleagues experienced a similar sense of disconnect, some for the first time. Now that all of your teams are getting more familiar with the challenges associated with dispersed working, you can leverage your firsthand experience to take connectivity to the next level for your frontline. 

Kaz Hassan, a digital workplace consultant, notes the positive change that can come from this shift in perspective:

"I worked with one client in the past who had rolled out a new system across the company, but didn’t check beforehand how it would impact all of their teams. One team on the frontline was impacted negatively, with the new system stunting their productivity significantly. It was only when the internal communications team spoke to the frontline workers themselves, that they discovered the issues. The new system had to be changed mid-way through a rollout, which caused delays and increased costs. It’s so important to put yourself in the shoes of your frontline employees and not create a disconnect between them and office-based staff."

Kaz Hassan - Product Manager at Unily

When you have a better understanding of remote working and the impact of missing those water cooler moments, you’re able to put this into your internal communications and live in the shoes of your frontline. Feeling the effect of this will mean you think differently about the impact of digitization and will be able to focus on getting the right technology out to your frontline workforce so that they can feel empowered in the field.

'Dynacare enhance patient care with an award-winning healthcare intranet' Guide front cover

Case Study

Dynacare: enhancing patient care with an award-winning healthcare intranet

For Canada’s largest and most established health solutions company, specialist knowledge is Dynacare’s lifeblood. Following a rebrand, the enterprise unveiled a collaboration-focused intranet that would underpin ambitious growth plans, enhance patient care, and even earn a spot among Nielsen Norman’s best intranets.

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#5. Create a truly digital workplace

To ensure your frontline healthcare workers feel empowered through digital means, you need to implement a true digital workplace. The organizations that have the highest degree of digital connectivity and empowerment have benefitted from growth levels of over 20%. 

Swap the physical noticeboard for a digital one – you'll be able to communicate to your frontline quickly and effectively, and they’ll in turn feel more connected to the head office. On top of that, look at adding digital message walls to the workplace. These will give your workers the chance to talk to each other on a more informal basis and share notes of encouragement that can be sent from their phone. 

In the past businesses have focused on using technology to drive engagement in office-based employees, while missing the fact that the ones most in need of this engagement are their frontline workers. As the ones who are face-to-face with your patients and the ones whose embodiment of your company values you heavily rely on, they are one of the most important teams in your organization.

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