Smartphone App Helps Excela Health Connect with Email-Averse Employees

July 28, 2017

// By Samantha Drake //

Excela Health logoThe internal communications team at Excela Health, a community health system outside of Pittsburgh, had numerous ways to connect with employees, from the HR newsletter to a variety of social media platforms. Yet employees continuously complained they didn’t know what was going on.

“People would text ‘Nobody ever tells us anything,’” says Jennifer Miele, vice president of marketing and communications at Excela. She wondered what more she could do to get employees’ attention because none of Excela’s goals—improved patient satisfaction, enhanced clinical quality brand, and a strong culture of safety—could be achieved without a strong connection with employees.

Jennifer Miele, vice president of marketing and communications at Excela Health

Jennifer Miele, vice president of marketing and communications at Excela Health

Launching an app to communicate with employees via their smartphones is proving to be a highly effective way to connect with Excela’s workforce. In a presentation at the 2017 Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit, Miele explained how Excela successfully encouraged employees to embrace the app and how the organization effectively communicates key news through it.

Reflecting the healthcare industry in general, the nature of Excela’s workforce presents several communication challenges, Miele said. The three-hospital health system has a highly disparate workforce of 4,800 employees and 735 physicians and allied health professionals spread out over more than 100 locations. Eighty percent of employees are not desk-bound, meaning email communication and other corporate communications went largely unread. In fact, Excela’s IT department reported only 20 percent of the workforce checked their emails. Further, with 10 percent to 15 percent of the workforce retiring each year, the organization’s demographics are changing. In particular, the number of millennials in the workforce is expected to double in the next few years.

All signs pointed to Excela needing to change the way it communicates with employees.

Eager to try something new, Miele says she was set on creating a smartphone app to reach employees. The healthcare organization’s intranet was little used and would be too expensive to update, and other forms of engagement clearly weren’t working. From an internal communications perspective, a smartphone app was the future.

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