Communicating with 8,900 staff is no small feat.
For Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore, internal communications becomes more complex when taking into account that 10% of the workforce is based outside of the hospital, in patients’ homes or elsewhere. It may take multiple roll calls to get a single message out to all 3,600 nurses, inside and outside of the hospital and on different shifts.
“For a big organisation, it is important to always update our suite of communication tools as the workforce changes and grows so that a large workforce can connect and collaborate better,” Jennifer Yap, Director of Corporate Communications at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, tells GovInsider. So the hospital has launched a new strategy, and is now using a social network for its internal messaging.
Social media at work
TTSH is the first hospital in the world to leave email behind for Workplace by Facebook, the social media giant’s communications platform for professional use. The Institute of Mental Health has followed suit, GovInsider understands.
On a related note, Singapore’s entire public service of about 143,000 officers will be using Workplace by this year, Peter Ong, Head of the Civil Service, announced last November.
Last July, the hospital launched its own mobile application and Facebook domain, ‘Kampung Workplace’ (kampung is the Malay word for village), as part of a repertoire of communication tools that staff already use.
Since then, the platform has strengthened the way that nurses, doctors, and staff interact with each other. Notably, it sped up facilities repair. Staff do not have to rely solely on calling time-consuming hotlines or emailing helpdesks anymore. Now, they can snap photos of leaky air conditioners or stained hallways, upload it to the relevant group, and someone would head over right away.
75% of TTSH staff are now using the system. Various interest groups and pages have sprung up on Kampung Workplace, allowing anyone to share information or fun anecdotes about their department. Besides the convenience factor, it is easy for people to pick up as “it is social media by nature”, Yap says, and it is less stiff and formal than email.
This platform also allowed other people around the hospital to appreciate the hard work by the facilities department. “You can see a lot of compliments and appreciation being posted,” Yap says.
For staff that need to communicate with non-English-speaking patients, the hospital also has a group for crowdsourcing translations, she adds. “People are coming in to help when they have never even met the other person before.”
An online community
While TTSH’s staff do not discuss patient details on the platform for “patient confidentiality” reasons, they do participate in groups to share the latest research or studies with their peers, says Yap. Nurses frequently post quizzes and polls on their groups to help them train.
There is now an online community of sorts within TTSH, with unhindered sharing and discussions among colleagues regardless of designation, explains Yap. The platform has served to create a sense of warmth as well, as staff share pictures of retirement parties and day-to-day events. “You can see the sense of pride they have in their teams. That’s really great for culture-building,” Yap remarks.
“You can see the sense of pride they have in their teams. That’s really great for culture-building.”
It has been a year since the launch, and there are plans in place for the future of Kampung Workplace. The platform will be extended to the upcoming HealthCity Novena campus, which is planned for completion in 2030, according to Yap.
As TTSH and other hospitals around their region expand their ranks, communications quickly become harder and harder. Efforts by other institutions to build internal social networks have struggled, partly due to staff takeup and the laboured nature of the projects.
But the Singapore public service has tried again with a less formal approach, moving beyond email to other familiar platforms. It will only be a matter of time before others follow suit.
Images from TTSH