Penn High Five

Fostering a digital community for employees to share positive feedback, praise and encouragement

In 2016, Kathleen Lee and Ian Oppenheim, residents at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) launched an effort to make the act of sharing positive feedback, easy and fun.

Together with their team, they created Penn High Five, a mobile-enhanced web-based social messaging application designed to facilitate real-time positive feedback delivery among health system employees.

The application currently offers an employee directory from which users can easily search and select a colleague to send a multimedia message to with options to add personal comments and copy supervisors.  

The recipient receives an email with a link directing them to the message, giving the recipient an opportunity to explore the application and send their own messages as well. 

Results from the Penn High Five pilot in the HUP emergency department (ED) were promising, with over 884 messages sent and received by 211 health care professionals within the department representing 90% of the population. 

Mean usage was 59 users per month with positive trending and peak usage occurring in the last months of the study period.  The team has also observed organic growth across the health system, with more than 7,000 high fives sent by 3,500 users from more than 500 departments at Penn Medicine since the launch of the application.

Most importantly, individuals who use the platform report that the application positively impacts their work environment.  Following the pilot period, users in the HUP ED were surveyed regarding their experience.  With a response rate of 66%, 99% of respondents indicated that the application positively impacted the department in some capacity.  In addition, the majority of respondents indicated that the application positively impacted friendliness among colleagues (78%), employee recognition (77%), sense of personal accomplishment (73%), employee teamwork (65%) and respect among colleagues (58%). 

The Penn High Five team plans to continue to scale their application to additional departments across the health system while maintaining a fun, addictive and personalized experience for its users.

Related Press & Publications