Healthcare IT News: Northwell Health app uses Facebook-style newsfeed to reach scores of clinicians and staff

New York’s largest private employer embraces a ‘mobile intranet’ to keep thousands of far-flung, previously ‘digitally disconnected’ staffers in the loop.

The wireless revolution has made it possible for people to stay in close touch with each other, no matter where they are. So it makes sense that hospitals would want to create a communications model for employees that goes beyond the conventional phone call, e-mail or text message.

For Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, the answer is myNorthwell, a custom-built app based on technology designed and developed by APPrise Mobile of New York City.

With more than 61,000 employees, Northwell Health – known until recently as North Shore-LIJ Health System – is New York’s largest private employer. Health system leaders realized that Northwell’s highly mobile workforce was “digitally disconnected” and needed to have instant access to workplace tools, content and information, said Ramon Soto, senior vice president, chief marketing and communications officer.

“With a major rebranding effort on the way, we needed a simple and cost-effective solution to engage employees,” he said.

The myNorthwell employee app is “part utility and part engagement,” Soto said. It offers an array of everyday functionality including timekeeping and self-service options, with access to recognition and wellness platforms. The company also uses the app to engage employees with exclusive previews of ad campaigns, discounts and brand updates.

“During the brand launch, we showcased our new visual identity and brand logo on the app before unveiling on other internal communication channels and externally,” Soto said.

For the past five years, APPrise Mobile has been busily developing and refining the technology that Northwell Health is using. With a history in consulting and corporate communications, founder and CEO Jeff Corbin says he worked with clients on how to address their communications challenges.

With the development of theEMPLOYEEapp, the company is “putting our money where our mouth is,” he says. Starting in 2011, Corbin’s IT staff began working on an app to aggregate content in a native way on mobile devices.

Because he was serving as the investor relations agent, Corbin oversaw the introduction of theIRapp, which aggregated investor relations content and distributed it to investors. It became a hit. Soon large corporations wanted their own IR app with their own brand, and a subscription business was born.

Using the same platform as the IR app, theEMPLOYEEapp debuted in 2014 and now counts more than 100 contracted customers. Corbin believes the key to its success is the ability to give employers expanded functionality in communicating with a labor force that is increasingly mobile and diverse.

“Employees are in need of a different type of information based on what they do, so the app enables companies to segregate workers into groups so that administrators can target content to each employee,” he said. “The app is structured like a mobile intranet – very organized, allowing for easy consumption of information. It was commissioned to build up like social media, with a Facebook-style newsfeed.”

Of Northwell Health’s 61,000 employees, the app has been loaded onto approximately 19,000 devices. The company plans to pilot a new targeted app group focused on some 6,500 managers who lead the workforce, said Elaine Page, chief people innovation officer.

“Our leaders said they want content to help them inspire, motivate and recognize their teams to help us become a best place to work,” she said. “It’s critical for any communication channel to have the ability to target content that is relevant and meaningful to the users and this app allows us to do it with ease.”

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