Closing the Digital Gap in Healthcare for Frontline Workers

Updated on February 1, 2024
Female doctor is using a digital tablet in her work. The Digital Hospital, with new and modern resources and easy access to the important information about the patients, test results and patient registration

Mass walkouts make headlines. It would not be surprising if 2024 saw an increase in these headlines – particularly in sectors such as healthcare. The recent strike that saw 75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers walk off the job is reflective of the deep level of disengagement among frontline healthcare professionals in general. Unless healthcare leaders can spot rising levels of disengagement, understand what causes it, and take proactive steps to prevent it within their organizations, these worrying trends will continue to persist.

Unfortunately, despite significant and somewhat effective efforts by HR leaders to recognize and reward frontline workers for their contributions, the healthcare industry is struggling to bridge the gap between organizational initiatives and frontline satisfaction. Benefits programs, loyalty initiatives, listening surveys, and wellbeing apps have failed to move the needle, mainly because these initiatives simply don’t always reach those needing them. Technologies such as e-learning and team scheduling platforms, messaging, and collaboration tools – designed to engage employees and encourage a more connected and cohesive organizational culture – have not had the desired impact on frontline staff. 

Mismatch Between Technology and Reality 

The problem is that while the pace of digital transformation in the enterprise space has been undeniable, the technologies most healthcare organizations purchase today are designed for desk-based workers who are permanently online and have ready access to IT support and/or relevant training resources; or are another add on to an existing legacy system.

The modern enterprise tech ecosystem is incompatible with the reality of frontline work – where mobile ease of use and accessibility are pivotal to driving impact. These tools simply don’t work effectively when rolled out to hospital staff who are time-constrained, constantly on their feet, and rarely anywhere near a desktop computer, especially for anything nonclinical. 

A survey of more than 500 US healthcare workers reveals that 37% say technology frustrates them. This lack of positivity around technology creates inequality of opportunity and influence within the workplace, as healthcare workers often don’t enjoy the same sense of value and belonging as their office-based peers, nor do they have the same opportunities for career advancement.

Purpose-built Technology for Delivering Exceptional Care

Healthcare workers aren’t averse to using technology. As consumers, their digital world is immediate and enriching, driven by intuitive smartphone apps, instant notifications, and a sense of always having the tools they need at their fingertips. Yet in their jobs, the current digital experience can be slow and disjointed.

To close the digital divide, organizations must deploy technologies specifically designed with the on-the-go frontline healthcare experience in mind. For example, offering single sign-on (SSO), mobile-enabled access to all applications will greatly improve accessibility. Building a hub can make it easy for all workers to access important information and other systems. Simple mobile forms can replace paper trails, help workers improve efficiency, and eradicate convoluted processes so that workers do not waste time on administrative tasks.

Elara Caring, one of the largest US-based providers of personal care, home health, and hospice care, successfully addressed these challenges after experiencing a 65% annual staff turnover rate due to low morale and lack of peer-to-peer connection. The company decided to deploy Blink, the frontline employee super-app, which has transformed its operational landscape and solved its million-dollar challenge. 

Elara, using Blink, streamlined onboarding, enhanced communication efficiency, and created a sense of community among employees, some of whom were never connected to the organization. By leveraging capabilities like SSO and automating daily tasks, Elara centralized operations and increased its productivity. Additionally, they facilitated seamless communication and peer-to-peer networking, fostering a culture of recognition and empowerment within Elara’s workforce.

By leveraging Blink’s multifaceted capabilities, Elara not only mitigated its turnover challenge but also established a more cohesive, efficient, and connected workforce, reinforcing its commitment to employee well-being and organizational success.  And, now that Elara has been able to connect to this large employee constituency successfully, they are innovating exciting new opportunities for improving these workers’ work-life and their patients’ experience.

Importance of Organizational Culture Shift  

Creating a digitally inclusive environment for frontline workers goes beyond technology adoption. It requires a cultural shift within organizations – one that values and actively supports the digital empowerment of every employee, regardless of role.  People and HR leaders must champion digital inclusion as a strategic priority, ensuring that frontline workers are not just recipients of technology but active participants in the digital transformation journey.

Organizations can foster this culture by promoting digital literacy programs, encouraging peer-to-peer learning, and recognizing the unique contributions of frontline workers. Understanding the specific pain points of these employees leads to more effective and user-friendly solutions and an increase in technology adoption.

Essentially, closing the digital gap for frontline healthcare workers isn’t just about technological advancements, it’s about ensuring exceptional healthcare and workplace equity. By investing in the right tools, training, and culture initiatives, healthcare organizations can enable and empower their frontline workforce to better thrive in the digital age.

Sean Nolan CEO copy
Sean Nolan
CEO and Co-Founder at Blink

Driven by his early encounters with remote work challenges, Boston-based CEO Sean Nolan co-founded Blink. This all-in-one "super-app" empowers frontline workers with the digital tools, connections, and resources they need on their personal phones. Blink bridges the gap between management and millions of individuals across industries, from bus drivers to healthcare workers, fostering engagement, belonging, and a 26% reduction in staff turnover. With over 300 clients, including Stagecoach and Domino's, and used seven times daily by 300,000+ workers, Blink is revolutionizing the frontline experience, one tap at a time.