Camille Wellard of Intermountain Healthcare discusses her company's mobile intranet at the Gilbane Digital Content Conference. PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

BOSTON — Mobile friendly user experiences, gamification and the right design can infuse new life into aging intranets, a pair of healthcare executives told attendees at the Gilbane Digital Content Conference at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel here yesterday.

Camille Wellard, senior director of internal e-business at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, and David King, director of internal communications at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, said they successfully reworked their intranets by addressing employees' needs for convenience, collaboration and engagement.

Make Employees the Priority

Audience members like Lisa Fougere, principal business analyst at Johnston, R.I.-based FM Global, a commercial property insurer, listened closely for ideas they could adapt to their own intranet improvement projects.

“We’re actually at a fully mature stage of a very old intranet tool and a strategy around what we present through the intranet,” Fougere told CMSWire after the session.

Fougere noted that her company focuses more on its clients than it employees. "I’m not saying that to be negative. It’s just the reality of business today,” she explained.

Her statement reflected a recurring theme at the conference: one emphasized during a morning keynote from Marissa Jarratt, vice president of marketing for the Global Snacks Group at PepsiCo. 

Jarratt told the crowd to do more to capture the attention of and inspire employees. In other words, treat your employees as well as your customers. 

Intermountain: Go Mobile

Wellard said her organization of 39,000 employees, 22 hospitals and 185 clinics needed a refresh from its SharePoint-based intranet.

It decided it wanted to go mobile and created a supplemental mobile intranet app. It conducted focus groups with managers, front line employees, business departments. After a year of research, it created its Employee Hub mobile app. That has allowed for quicker development cycles, improved third-party app integration and enhanced personalization and targeting.

It includes gamification components, rewards trackers, an incentive to exercise with its “10,000 steps” (much like a Fitbit) and a cafeteria menu, a huge hit.

Turns out, people mostly access email through an Office 365 integration and things like an app that leads them to their paycheck. The lesson: simplicity rules. Know what users want. 

“You should be connected to what your users’ needs are,” Wellard said. “Is this really meeting the needs of users?"

Track everything regarding intranet use, and further, don’t live by the “go big or go home” mantra.

“You may only have to focus on really simple things after talking to users,” she said.

Partners: Communication Improvement

Partners HealthCare has 68,000 employees. Earlier this year, it surveyed employees about internal communications. They discovered: “internal communication is nonexistent.”

David King
David King of Partners HealthCare discussed his internal communications team's intranet strategy at the Gilbane Digital Content Conference.PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

About five months ago, the organization created an internal communications team led by King. Its first tall task — create an intranet that’s better than its existing one built off its web content management system.

The vision: a shared, common communication experience for employees.

Executive leaders went to bat for the team, and eventually the team settled on an intranet provider (Igloo Software) to release the new internal communications digital center, King said.

“We wanted to move beyond communication alone,” King said. “We realized that after meeting vendors that a straight-forward communication platform was really old thinking. We had a to create a far more collaborative platform that could change the whole culture of how we work together.”

Highlights of the project included:

  • Distributed ownership of websites to key departments
  • Automatic launch of the intranet site at login
  • Use of GE’s Change Acceleration process
  • Profile-driven sites
  • Blogs that encourage user feedback and commentary
  • Polls, crowd-sourcing idea generation
  • Mobile optimization

Lisa Fougere
Lisa Fougere

“Our biggest trouble,” King said, “is that it was hard to imagine what it could be. Our developers — it didn’t occur to them that this much was possible.” 

For practitioners like Fougere, it’s all about recognizing what’s at stake, and that’s employees’ well-being. “We rely on our clients and have a very interactive relationship with our clients. But we really should be doing that with our employees. If we want to reassess or revamp our intranet, we’re going to have to do that.”