Workplace by Facebook for Health Care: How to Deal With the Top Three Use Concerns

Workplace by Facebook for Health Care: How to Deal With the Top Three Use Concerns

workplace by facebook

Written by Michelle O’Gara.

There’s no question that social media are a game-changer – and so is Workplace by Facebook.

Facebook currently connects more than 1.94 billion monthly active users on its public-facing network site. One could wager that many of those users work for the same health care organization as you.

Health care thought leaders such as the Mayo ClinicCleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital who have embraced social media use for reaching external publics, have seen a direct linkage to increases in revenue, patient satisfaction, and donations. But what about using enterprise social for internal communications?

Intra-organizational communication in the health care sector has long been a complex system of asynchronous, interrupt-driven interactions. Large health systems with multiple facilities often become fragmented communication silos with misaligned strategies and duplicate programs, resulting in frustration among industry professionals.

Workplace by Facebook

On January 25, 2017, SBH Health System in the Bronx became the first in its industry to implement Workplace by Facebook – a state-of-the-art enterprise-focused social platform for internal communications. SBH replaced its antiquated wiki-based intranet with Facebook’s easy-to-use technology and entered into a transformative realm of employee engagement. However, the change did not come without concerns from leaders throughout the organization. Here are the top three concerns raised during SBH’s pre-launch phase:

#1 Is Workplace HIPAA compliant?

The short answer – no. And that’s good news.

Health care employees get trained to use approved organizational applications to securely send and receive encrypted patient health information (PHI), such as the electronic health record (EHR) and Amion. Workplace is not a space to share any PHI – it is a business communication tool for employee engagement. Reinforce this message in all buy-in, launch and training collateral. Don’t try and hide it.

#2 How are we going to stop employees from using personal phone devices and being on Workplace all the time?

Well, that’s an easy answer – we’re not. Rather, we should encourage responsible use.

During a senior leader Workplace introduction, SBH Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Len Walsh responded to this question:

“We can make policy after policy prohibiting employees from using their personal phone devices. We can continue to have managers spend time writing up employees who break policy. And still, every time you walk down the halls of the hospital or around campus, you’ll still see employees on their phones. So why fight it? This is the way the world is going. And it’s the way our employees now communicate. WE are the ones that need to change our thinking, so we can communicate with THEM in the environment THEY are already using.”

SBH adjusted policies to promote responsible Workplace use. The policy is simple: employees are prohibited from using personal devices while tending to a patient or while in patient areas. Otherwise, they can connect whenever they choose. However, do not expect this shift in work culture to happen overnight. Employees will be hesitant at first, mostly because senior leaders and directors need time to adjust their thinking around this. When employees see others (especially their managers) demonstrating responsible use, they will model the behavior in time.

#3 What if a disgruntled employee inappropriately uses Workplace, or it becomes a negative communication stream for airing gripes?


Do you remember the scene from the movie “Jerry Maguire” when he gets fired and makes a spectacle in the office? He scoops a gold fish out of a tank and into a Ziploc bag, and asks his co-workers, “Who’s coming me me?” The reason why this is a scene in a movie is that it rarely happens in real life. Workplace use among employees comes down to a straightforward concept: People want to look good and avoid looking bad. Your organization likely has a “Code of Conduct and Ethical Behavior” with consequences for non-compliance explained. Your employees are smart. The community will police itself – this includes both union and non-union staff.

Workplace offers the health care industry an extraordinary opportunity to for employees to be informed, engaged and inspired to provide the best patient care possible. Knowing how to navigate these three common questions will enable future adoption in the medical community throughout the world.


Michelle O’Gara is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at SBH Health System. Recently, Michelle was named “Digital Visionary” by Facebook for leading the first team in the health care industry to implement Workplace by Facebook. She is also the author and illustrator of “Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick” — a book to help people in the face of a diagnosis.

This article was originally posted on Michelle O’Gara’s blog.

Learn insider tips and best practices for Workplace by Facebook at the upcoming Workplace by Facebook for Internal Communications Conference, November 13-15, 2017 in Palo Alto, CA.


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