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Southern Illinois Healthcare Reduces Employee Burnout Using Text-Based Survey Built Quickly on AWS

2022

Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) had been surveying its employees yearly to assess the corporate climate and how it compared to that of other healthcare organizations. Gauging employee satisfaction is important for employee retention, and SIH wanted to be able to improve its company culture consistently with ongoing feedback instead of responding just once a year. The COVID-19 pandemic brought added urgency to the development of a solution that could monitor employees in real time and assess potential burnout. So SIH turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and in 12 weeks built an automated, text-based survey mechanism that provided company leaders with actionable data in real time, empowered employees, and created a culture that facilitated the recruitment and retention of top talent.

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The AWS team was highly engaged and collaborative. It was able to deliver on a plan and bring results very quickly.” 

David Hakanson
Chief Information Officer, Southern Illinois Healthcare

Building a Solution Quickly alongside AWS Professional Services

SIH is an integrated network of three hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, emergency and urgent care centers, outpatient services, and destination institutes such as the SIH Cancer Institute and the SIH Brain and Spine Institute. While at a previous organization, David Hakanson—SIH’s chief information officer—had worked alongside AWS Professional Services, a global team of experts that can help organizations realize their desired business outcomes when using AWS. Through this collaboration, Hakanson’s team had created its IT department a pulse survey—a survey that checks the “pulse” of employees’ experiences, generating continual data that helps measure and compare feedback at different points in time. Upon arriving at SIH in March 2020, Hakanson wanted to implement a similar solution that was adapted to SIH’s specific workflows and that included all departments. “My experience was that the AWS team was highly engaged and collaborative,” says Hakanson. “It was able to deliver on a plan and bring results very quickly.”

In collaboration with AWS Professional Services, SIH developed a minimum viable product from concept to working solution—a process that could take up to 1 year—within 12 weeks. Immediately, SIH was able to collect real-time feedback from its 3,800 employees, critical at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was taking its toll on healthcare workers. SIH recognized the need to collect and respond to feedback quickly and continually to help improve employee morale, a mission that AWS facilitated using its out-of-the-box solutions. “Because SIH was new to using AWS, there was a learning curve,” Hakanson says. “The AWS Professional Services team did a fantastic job of helping us get acclimated very quickly to the AWS suite of tools. That was critical for the success of our project.” 

Using Data to Drive Company Improvements

Automated processes have been key to SIH’s successful deployment of the survey, which is built around Amazon Pinpoint, a flexible and scalable outbound and inbound marketing communications service. SIH uses the SMS channel of Amazon Pinpoint to automatically send weekly surveys to the more than 1,000 participating employees. “We love the ability to set up the campaigns to send the SMS texts automatically on a specific day and time,” says Rick Galloway, human resources information system and customer service director at SIH. “It’s very easy and user friendly.” The solution captures employee responses using AWS Lambda, a serverless, event-driven compute service that lets developers run code without provisioning or managing servers. SIH can add, remove, and update employee information automatically in real time. “What’s really important to us is automating as much as possible to minimize manual work by various employees,” Hakanson says. 

The company uses the data it collects to facilitate communication and collaboration within departments, improving employee productivity. All employee responses are automatically stored using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. SIH decision-makers access their own personal dashboards to monitor their teams in real time using Amazon QuickSight, a cloud-native, serverless business intelligence service that provides a way for everyone in an organization to understand data by asking questions in natural language, exploring through interactive dashboards, or automatically looking for patterns and outliers powered by machine learning. Managers at SIH use their teams’ results in Amazon QuickSight to create action plans for improvements. For example, SIH’s culture committee formulated an action plan in response to the aggregate score from answers to the question “Does the IT department communicate well?” The committee’s plan resulted in a more than 5 percent increase in the score by the following quarter, which was the highest raw score that the company had seen in 3 years. “It has helped because we’ve been able to uncover concerns that our employees haven’t had the venue to express,” Hakanson says.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing burnout was critical to SIH. Researchers at Stanford University reported that physician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe workplace conditions, meaning the improvement of employee well-being could help reduce medical malpractice, possibly resulting in cost savings. Plus, SIH has found that having satisfied employees results in higher-quality patient services and care, leading to improved outcomes. This positive cycle attracts additional patients to SIH and increases overall revenue. “Our employees now know that their voices are being heard,” Hakanson says. “I see this as a huge win for empowering our employees and keeping them at the center of our focus for a healthy workplace.”

Expanding the Use of AWS to Advance Digital Transformation

SIH has found that its ability to gauge employee satisfaction has been important for employee retention, and it is expanding the pulse survey to include more specialized questions. The success of the survey also has encouraged SIH to innovate using other AWS services. For example, the company plans to begin migrating its data center to the cloud, what it calls “the data center of the future.” Also, SIH is considering using AWS solutions to modernize its call center technology and bring the telephony components of its service desk to the cloud. “Our use of AWS gave us the ability to quickly deliver on a pulse survey, opening a door that hadn’t been there for our company,” Hakanson says. “So now as we think about different solutions, we ask ourselves how AWS can be a part of them.”


About Southern Illinois Healthcare

Southern Illinois Healthcare is an integrated network of three hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, urgent care centers, outpatient services, and destination institutes such as the SIH Cancer Institute and the SIH Brain and Spine Institute.

Benefits of AWS

  • Built fully automated, text-based pulse survey in 12 weeks
  • Collected real-time data on employee well-being
  • Empowered employees through regular engagement
  • Improved communication within departments
  • Reduced employee burnout, a key factor in medical malpractice
  • Facilitated recruitment and retention of talent
  • Created action plans that improved corporate culture

AWS Services Used

AWS Pinpoint

Amazon Pinpoint is a flexible and scalable outbound and inbound marketing communications service. You can connect with customers over channels like email, SMS, push, voice or in-app messaging.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless, event-driven compute service that lets you run code for virtually any type of application or backend service without provisioning or managing servers. 

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Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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AWS QuickSight

Amazon QuickSight allows everyone in your organization to understand your data by asking questions in natural language, exploring through interactive dashboards, or automatically looking for patterns and outliers powered by machine learning.

Learn more »


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