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Healthcare Intranet Design Trends for the 2020s

Gone are the days of intranets being digital filing cabinets. As our world gets more app-based, how can healthcare intranets keep up?

Today, employees expect intranets to be responsive, personalized, and efficient—just like the experience of using their favorite websites. Outdated, stale, and clunky intranets don’t only bring down employee engagement, but productivity, too.

At Geonetric, we’ve done surveys with several hundred stakeholders and employees in health systems across the country, and poor design and user experience is a common complaint of outdated intranets.

In fact, poorly designed intranets account for millions in productivity dollars lost every year. Nielsen Norman Group estimates that companies can save $2 to $3 million per year by improving intranet usability.

Whether you’re an intranet decision maker at your organization, or just an everyday user, read on to learn more about the common design and usability trends for healthcare in the 2020s and beyond.

Branded Experience

Your intranet isn’t just a filing cabinet. It’s an online experience to help your employees do their jobs efficiently and confidently. Branding your intranet is a popular trend – and good practice – moving into the 2020s.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to have its own color palette and font family, but it should have a recognizable name and even a logo to help distinguish it as a tool that your employees use.

App-like Design

Now that smartphones are in nearly every pocket or purse in America, it’s not all that strange that employees and teams at your organization expect an app-like experience, especially on mobile devices.

While websites may not always work as apps, intranets often do because they’re task-oriented: It’s the place employees go to get things done.

So what does an app-like experience mean? In design, we like to break it down as:

  • Responsive – No matter what size screen the user is on, the site works seamlessly and efficiently
  • Grouped items – Streamline your navigation by grouping like things together, such as departments, events, and resources
  • Expandable windows and menus – For when people just want things out of the way, expandable windows and menus make it easier for the user to find what they need on the screen
  • Dynamic content – Keep necessary information updating automatically, if possible, including organization news and events, quality scores, or other important data for your employees

Online Forms

At one time, PDFs were the only option we had for forms on intranets. But these days, employees expect a seamless, intuitive online experience like they have with some of their favorite websites. That includes online forms.

Paper forms require resources, printing costs, and physical mailing or drop-off of the form to an internal mailbox. Online form submissions, however, can be automatically routed appropriately to the right team or person responsible. Better yet, online form programs like Formulate let you track the responses and follow up with partial completes to move things along.

When built well, online forms can increase conversion and ease the cognitive load on your users. Breaking up sections, providing helpful instructional text, and applying workflows and custom email responses makes it a helpful, valuable format for everyone.

Story Hubs for Employee Engagement

In the early 1990s, Bill Gates once said, “Content is king,” and since then, not much has changed. Content has driven the advancements we’ve seen in search engines and algorithms, and even how we interact with our favorite brands. Maybe your public website is already publishing blogs and patient stories.

But when it comes to intranets, storytelling and content writing is less about attracting SEO opportunities and more about increasing employee engagement. In fact, Gallup found that 74% of U.S. employees have a feeling they’re “missing out” on company news. And in healthcare, between shifts in the hospital or seeing patients round-the-clock in the clinics, there likely isn’t a lot of time to stop and chat these days.

A storytelling hub — or employee blog — is a great place to fill the gap.

This is where you can share stories about what’s happening in your organization, take story ideas from employees and volunteers, share healthy tips, or even invite employees to write their own stories to share.

Maybe you have a printed newsletter today — that’s a great place to start! Instead of using money on printing costs, move your newsletter online, making it accessible (and more easily browsable) by all employees at your health system.

Take a step further by giving employees the chance to subscribe to the online story center, where they can get weekly updates about new stories when they’re published.

Personalized Content

When it comes to intranet design, sometimes it helps to get out of the way. Rather than gathering a laundry list of links that covers every role or team, why not make the content personalized based on specific needs?

Solutions like Geonetric’s VitalSite offers the use of panels-by-role, which allows your administrators to establish groups of employees by permission and access. This lets you create custom panels of links and content that appear to users based on their login permissions.

These integrations cut down on cognitive load, which can quickly add up when employees are spent searching high and low for a link to a tool or document.

Robust Directories & Customizable Content Types

Keeping your employees informed and engaged is a must. But rather than keeping spreadsheets of names and data, build comprehensive directories to make it easier for employees to find what they need and take the next step. Customized directories and content types can help you build a structured experience that’s intuitive to search and digest.

The best part about directories and content types is you can control the type and layout of information in a consistent way. Each employee profile can have the same or similar fields; the same goes for locations and departments.

These directories can go a level further, connecting employees to specific location profiles, or connecting employee stories and blog posts to employee profiles.

Outside of profiles, think about the custom content types you may need  such as:

  • Employee cafeteria menus
  • How-to, tutorials, or instructional content
  • Human resources policies
  • Local business discounts
  • System news or press releases

Don’t forget about an events calendar, too. Whether you need to display upcoming employee events and activities, continuing education classes, or even an on-call schedule, your calendar should give you plenty of options to make information easy to reach.

Cloud Hosting

Self-hosting is a thing of the past for intranets these days. Cloud hosting provides flexibility and growth-capabilities for any health system. Better yet, partnering with an organization that can cloud host your intranet and handle all the security and troubleshooting takes a burden off your information technology (IT) team.
In addition to cloud hosting benefits, be sure to ask your potential intranet partner about other important specifications, such as:

  • Storage limits and locations
  • Data backups
  • Troubleshooting processes and resources
  • Scheduled downtime
  • Upgrades and improvements

Your partner should have full documentation that outlines their hosting solution and how it works with your healthcare system’s security needs.

Find a Flexible Intranet Solution

Health systems are constantly evolving and that includes yours. It’s more important than ever to find a flexible intranet solution that’s secure, developed, and well-managed. Learn more about what Geonetric’s intranet solutions and services can do for you, schedule a demo or contact us for information.

Erin Schroeder

Senior Product Strategist

Healthcare Intranet Design Trends for the 2020s