Health care is a stressful vocation; employees must make instant decisions in emergencies and work around the clock to provide patient care. External factors add to the pressure, as hospitals fight to retain good employees when other organizations are recruiting and staffers have a high rate of burnout. 

So, how can hospital communicators grow a healthy internal culture—one in which staffers are engaged and eager to come to work? A new wave is approaching, bringing a new approach to internal engagement and employee experience through digital communications.

Franciscan Childrens_App

The Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, provides care and education for children with unique health-care needs, helping each child find the courage to reach their full potential.

The hospital’s Research Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs is devoted to the promotion of evidence-based practices in pediatric rehabilitation and the development, evaluation, and dissemination of effective models of caring for children.

Their slogan “So Every Kid Can” illustrates the hospital’s compassionate commitment to the the children in their care.

The Franciscan Children’s Employee App

The Challenge

In order to provide the best possible experience for these young patients, one thing is crucial: That all hospital employees are engaged and informed. But with its workforce spread far afield, communication became difficult.

“Our challenge was that with so many care providers in so many different parts of our organization, we didn’t have an effective way of communicating and talking to one another in order to learn what we were all doing,” said Carla Kath, the hospital’s Marketing and Communications Specialist. “So we started to look at an employee app as a solution that provides both desktop and mobile options that can reach all of our employees.“

The Franciscan Children’s Employee App

Why an employee app? “Communicators must recognize the new landscape,” Carla explains. “The workforce is changing, and the way that they’re working is changing, so the platform has to evolve in order to ensure that communications are maintained.”

The Franciscan Children’s Employee App
TheFRAN, employee app

An Innovative Launch Campaign for the Employee App

For the app to be a success, the team around Ms. Kath organized an innovative launch program. The idea was that the new tool would move communications beyond its old “dinosaur” intranet and stop the information flow from being extinct.

Following this idea, members of the team took turns dressing in a prehistoric reptile costume. They pinned printed “dinosaur eggs” around the building which could be traded for Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards, and there were town halls and onboarding events with dinosaur-themed treats.

The Franciscan Children’s Employee App
The Franciscan Children’s Employee App

Staff caught on quickly: after just two months, 80% of the hospital’s workforce were using the mobile app; after four months the number has risen to 85%. They’ve called it “TheFRAN,” a popular nickname for the hospital. In oder to further increase the numbers the hospital has made “TheFRAN” part of their onboarding process. When new employees join the team they are asked to download the app. This way they are immediately part of the team and are able to experience the engaging culture. 

Staffbase, Free Playbook Healthcare – Employee App

“The app has given our employees a way to communicate that they’ve never had before. They’re starting to engage with one another and they’re starting to celebrate each other’s achievements and milestones. With this very positive step we’re creating a more engaging culture.”

TheFRAN - Launch Week Schedule

Stepping into the Future of Communications: After the Jurassic Period

With the new tool, Carla and her team see possibilities that go beyond the driving of engagement to actually being able to measure it.

The new mobile app provides real-time analytics that Franciscan couldn’t previously get through its email or newsletters. “We have an employee engagement survey; then we’ll have focus groups to analyze the findings and come up with solutions for the findings,” Ms. Kath says.

The Franciscan Children’s Employee App

The CMS Dashboard for Editors and Admins (sample content)

As a first step, the hospital posted “Did You Know?” teasers that lead to bits of interesting trivia about fellow staffers, such as: “Did you know that your colleague plays guitar?” or “Did you know that your colleague was a beauty pageant queen?” Communicators later identify the person when their full stories are published.

The aim is to create a culture that supports the exchange of information and feedback. “It’s a way to create an engaging space,” Ms. Kath says, “where we could celebrate our culture and provide recognition for our employees.”

Improving Communication and Teamwork

“We’re so excited about the way TheFRAN is going to help us grow and evolve,” says Ms. Kath. “And we’re excited about that next phase, where it can help us in our work; where it can help us to be more efficient as we learn to communicate together more.”

The Franciscan Children’s Employee App

We look forward to being part of that development and to working with Carla and her team in the future!

Do you have questions or want more information? Feel free to contact us directly or check out our other case studies:

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