As David Casarett, MD, MA, chief medical officer of Wissahickon Hospice, well knows, building an integrated palliative care program across a complex health system is a daunting task. “Everyone comes to the table with different visions of what palliative care is.” So when he needed to communicate with participants coming to a Palliative Care Retreat, Casarett decided to try a new approach: The Square.
The Square is Penn Medicine’s new private, professional social networking website. It is a way for faculty and staff of Penn Medicine to connect to one another and to talk to each other -– sharing ideas, discovering opportunities, and creating solutions to our shared challenges.
It was just what was needed to connect people around a shared goal. “The Square facilitated introductions, fostered dialogue, and generated a sense of community quickly."
What is The Square Designed to Do?
The Square connects people who care about the same things. It can bring together colleagues who are working on similar projects, but, due to geographical or time-related barriers, don’t communicate often enough or perhaps don’t even know each other. By creating a profile, similar to sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, employees can let the Penn Medicine community know more about who they are and what they have to offer.
For example, someone working in an outpatient facility in Woodbury Heights, NJ, can make contact with someone in a very similar role in Radnor, PA, and share tips and information that previously would have been very difficult to do. “Before our team wrote a single line of code on the website, we conducted interviews with hundreds of employees from all walks of life at Penn Medicine,” said Aaron Johnson, director of Innovation Technologies. “Because the people of Penn Medicine are such a diverse group, we needed to gain a real understanding of what challenges exist for everyone. We all share the desire to have a voice –- to have our ideas heard. And we all want to connect with our peers -– to share information and, our ideas for making Penn Medicine an even better place. By employing the latest communications technologies, we can better serve the employee community and help to facilitate important conversations.”
Penn Medicine is not the first professional organization to use technologies like The Square, but we are ahead of the curve. A growing number of businesses and organizations – including Lockheed Martin, Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Defense -- are building social media sites that allow their employees to contribute their ideas and collaborate with one another in new ways.
“One of the most important actions we can take as an organization is to enable employees to do what they do ‘best’ each and every day. Leveraging our strengths to improve the overall patient experience is what attracts men and women to Penn Medicine -- and keeps them here,” said Judy Schueler, VP Organization Development and chief Human Resource officer. “ The Square serves as a virtual tool for turning an idea into reality and connecting with those who share a passion for making our organization a better place to work -- and a better place for patients and our families to receive care. “
Turning ‘Ideas into Reality’
Let’s say you have an idea for how to do something better, or smarter, or more safely. Ideas to Reality is the section of The Square that lets you share your idea with the Penn Medicine community and start a dialogue that can help make your idea even better. The Square’s Ideas to Reality section first provides a private space to document your idea and then craft it until you feel comfortable sharing it with your colleagues.
Lauren Johnson, program specialist in Talent Acquisition, used this section to share Suits and Scrubs, her idea to give non-clinical employees an opportunity to feel more connected to patients by establishing a program for non-clinical workers to shadow clinical workers. The idea sparked a good deal of commenting and dialogue on The Square, including comments from Garry Scheib, the Health System’s COO. He not only acknowledged her idea, but also took it to the next level.
On The Square, Scheib commented, “I had the opportunity to discuss this idea with the HUP senior management team this morning. We all appreciate you reminding us of the need to keep engaged with all areas of the organization, especially those which have patient contact. So here is what we will be doing: At tomorrow's Hospital Department Directors Council [HDDC], I will inform all HDDC members of your idea. I will also inform them that the HUP senior team will be role modeling a ‘shadowing’ or ‘walk in your shoes’ effort. We will begin with each of the areas under the responsibility of each senior team member.”
While Lauren Johnson and Scheib had never previously met face to face, The Square provided an opportunity to connect and share ideas. For Johnson, being able to connect with a senior leader on The Square was a valuable experience. “Having a leader like Garry recognize my simple idea made my day, perhaps even my year,” she said. “Being able to share an idea on The Square has given me a say in what I think is important. By sharing the Suits and Scrubs idea, I felt that I was not just speaking for myself, but also on behalf of other professionals who work in office settings but want to connect with patients. It promotes a deeper connection to my work and what I do every day.”
How Can I Sign Up?
Penn Medicine employees can join The Square in two ways. A member can bring another employee onboard via the “Invite a Colleague” function on the site. Or, an employee can simply request membership on the home page of the site, www.pennmedicine.org/TheSquare. Click the “Request Membership” link under the heading “Become a Part of the Square.”
The site is accessible anywhere -– from work or at home. And joining is completely voluntary. We seek to grow and nurture an online community of Penn Medicine employees who are interested in connecting with others, sharing ideas, and contributing to a thoughtful dialogue online.
After your membership is activated, you will be sent an email with your login credentials and a link to “Six Simple Steps to Getting Started on The Square” which will guide you through creating a profile, adding contacts, joining groups, and other important site activities. Whether you want to use The Square to voice ideas, meet people, or just stay better connected to the pulse of Penn Medicine – it's your opportunity to contribute your voice toward how Penn Medicine delivers care to our patients and their families.
For more information, contact Aaron Johnson at email@example.com