May 23 2022

Connected Care: Northwell Health Strengthens Seamless Communication for Better Collaboration

With hospitals and outpatient facilities sprawled across the New York City metro area, Northwell Health knows how critical it is for clinicians to effectively team up for patient care. 

The healthcare system had to rethink earlier strategies for clinical communication and collaboration, which included face-to-face meetings, phone calls and pagers at the bedside. A move to Microsoft Teams in 2019 provided a foundation for seamless communication and collaboration that was HIPAA-compliant and buildable.

“There were many leaders, especially our IT team, who had been advocating for us to use the same clinical collaboration platform across departments for years,” says Site Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Anncy Thomas. “Ultimately, I think it was the COVID-19 pandemic that really drove the business and clinical areas to adopt Microsoft Teams in a meaningful way.”

When pandemic restrictions required widespread remote work, Northwell Health adapted accordingly, says Sophy Lu, senior vice president and CIO.

“Teams was able to meet us not only on an enterprise collaboration video front but it also enabled text chats among our team members and the clinicians,” Lu says. “It was also able to evolve and develop different capabilities and functions that we built upon the platform.”

For instance, Northwell launched NORA, an intelligent virtual assistant that offers quick access to relevant patient data, to complement Teams.

“Nora makes real-time patient information accessible to clinicians on their mobile devices or on a desktop or laptop, right through Teams and through its integration with the Northwell electronic medical record,” Thomas says. “Through either the experience with the chatbot or the myNora app, I can get lab results, documents or images from a Northwell EMR within seconds. I can set up notifications for results or documents that will alert me on my mobile device, so I don't have to constantly check the EMR for updates. This was all so valuable during the height of the pandemic, when clinicians were seeing a record number of patients, and it really continues to be one of the more popular features.”

Strong collaboration between the clinical and IT sides helped the widespread Teams rollout succeed and spurs ongoing innovation, Lu adds: “I can't emphasize enough how important it is to interact with all user personas and understand what problem they’re trying to solve and what will help them do their jobs. And choose a platform that can evolve with you.”

LEARN MORE: Get insight on the evolution of clinical communication and collaboration.


    Anncy Thomas, Site Chief Medical Information Officer, Northwell Health

    Sophy Lu, Senior Vice President and CIO, Northwell Health

Video Highlights

  • Northwell Health has over 77,000 employees across 23 hospitals and more than 830 outpatient facilities.
  • A move to Microsoft Teams in 2019 laid the foundation for improved clinical communication and collaboration.
  • A streamlined approach to CC&C improved clinical teamwork for better care delivery.