Hospital saves by modernizing employee performance management process

Bruce Felder talks about the challenges facing managers in healthcare and how Halogen Performance helps address them.

Cabell Huntington Hospital modernized its employee performance management (EPM) system in order to upgrade a redundant paper-based system that failed to meet its needs and was costly in terms of time and money. The new cloud-based solution allowed the organization to:

  • Reduce resources, in terms of money and time, needed to complete appraisals;
  • Transform the process into one that is easier to use, requires less paper and increases employee satisfaction;
  • Significantly improve the percentage of appraisals completed on time;
  • Align job descriptions with its appraisal process; and
  • Instill consistency throughout the performance appraisal process so that all employees are measured fairly.

Company profile

Cabell Huntington Hospital is a not-for-profit, regional referral center. Located in Huntington, West Virginia, Cabell Huntington cares for patients from more than 29 counties throughout West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio. Opened in 1956, it is also a teaching hospital and is affiliated with Marshall University Schools of Medicine and Nursing.

The Hospital decided to modernize its performance management system with the arrival of recently promoted Barry Tourigny, Vice-President of Human Resources (HR). Since he began, Tourigny has strived to modernize all the systems within the Hospital's HR department. By implementing a new performance management system, the Hospital aimed to reduce cost while finding a way to review employee performance that would be easier for everyone involved.

Challenge

In the past, Cabell Huntington Hospital used a paper-based system that fell short of the Hospital's needs in almost every category. One result of these shortcomings was that the Hospital's percentage of appraisals completed on time was suffering. "More than 10 percent of our appraisals were not completed at all and our goal of course is 100 percent completion," said Michelle Getter, HR representative with Cabell Huntington Hospital. "We needed a way to make it easier for our managers to complete appraisals on time in a more efficient manner and to remind them at every step when things were due."

When Tourigny arrived at the Hospital he reviewed existing processes and quickly identified that existing performance appraisal completion rates needed to be improved and the whole process re-evaluated. Further more, most of the Hospital's job descriptions and evaluation tools were outdated, and in most cases were not connected to each other. Rather than having one integrated system, the Hospital was dealing with descriptions and evaluation tools that were not aligned.

With the paper-based process, HR sent the necessary documents to managers who had employee appraisals due. Often managers expressed how overwhelming it was to deal with the piles of paper. Complaints aside, the HR team had to keep unhappy managers on track costing the hospital considerable time and money.

Additionally, once the process had started, multiple hands had to touch each paper performance appraisal form, from HR to managers to their supervisor to the employee and then to the VP. With multiple copies of each employee appraisal traveling between four or more individuals, there were a number of potential privacy and security issues. Finally, once the appraisals were completed and approved they had to be archived by the HR department. "Our files were getting monstrous; we were simply running out of space," said Getter.

Selection process

The Cabell team, led by Tourigny, began looking for ways to improve the performance management process, while addressing key issues such as linking the many job descriptions required in a large and diverse organization with its evaluation tool, and the need to streamline the process for managers. An RFP for possible solutions was issued to several vendors, kicking off the selection process.

"I started looking at ways to bring job descriptions and evaluation tools in line with each other while also speeding up the process for managers," said Tourigny. "I had viewed other solutions that I liked, but given the opportunity to put out an RFP to see what would emerge, Halogen came to the forefront."

The Hospital used an existing committee that had been set up earlier to look at the performance appraisal form itself. Tourigny pulled the committee together to help narrow down potential vendors. "In starting the RFP process, I viewed other solutions that I liked, but following the RFP, Halogen quickly came to the forefront," said Tourigny.

The top criteria the Hospital listed for the new solution was the cost of bringing the software to the table, but it also considered the on-going cost of support. The Hospital was aware that with many solutions, customers believe they are given everything they need, but when they get into the process they realize a lot is missing. "When you go back to the vendor it ends up costing you more for the functionality you need," said Tourigny. "We recognized very quickly with Halogen that we got what we needed right out of the box."

Implementation

Cabell Huntington Hospital had been revamping its entire on-boarding process, and improving its performance management system was directly connected to that objective. As part of the on-boarding process, the Hospital has 30-, 60- and 90-day performance reviews. The Hospital wanted every appraisal form to be consistent, to have the same format, the same style, and to be from the same vendor.

The Hospital had a small group that was involved in initial training. This group functioned as a small pilot of four to five people. "Though traditionally a larger pilot group would have been used considering the size of our organization, surprisingly we have had very few issues," said Getter. "Halogen's training was excellent and the product is intuitive."

The Hospital's smooth implementation of Halogen Performance Healthcare was due in part to the support it received from Halogen staff. "Our implementation specialist  was amazing. I was on the phone with him for several weeks asking how to best get things done," said Getter. "He was patient and answered all our questions. He made himself available to us whenever we needed him. He has been awesome."

All 2200 of the Hospital's employees across all six locations are now participating in the performance management process. The full implementation, from start to finish, took approximately four months. The Cabell team opted to bring all employees and managers on board at the same time because they felt extremely confident that people would be comfortable with the process as long as they were well trained and kept informed at every step. Following the rollout, even those at the Hospital who are not particularly computer savvy — and the organization did have a significant number of employees who didn't use computers routinely — have not had any problems using the application.

Benefits

Since implementing Halogen Performance Healthcare, Cabell Huntington Hospital has benefited from:

The Hospital has been able to significantly improve the on-time completion rate of appraisals to between 99 and 100 percent, which is required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' (JCAHO) standard. While the Hospital historically achieved 85 to 87 percent of appraisals completed on time, in the first month using Halogen that percentage rose to 98. "With Halogen Performance Healthcare, we've been able to meet JCAHO on-time completion standards on a much shorter timeline than if we relied on policy changes or discipline to improve our process," said Getter.

The HR team's second goal in replacing the paper-based process was to increase ease of use and manager satisfaction. The feedback on both these criteria has been exceptionally positive. "Everybody now thinks I am absolutely wonderful," said Tourigny. "That is an HR dream because we rarely hear anything positive."

"Naturally, managers may have been wary of change in the beginning, but now they just love it," says Getter. "There is no one I have talked to who doesn't love the solution."

Another significant benefit for Cabell Huntington Hospital was the time and cost it saved having the Halogen services group transfer the Hospital's existing documents into the new system. "This service enabled us to get our system up and running quickly, saving us time and money," said Tourigny. "If I had to perform this transfer, I would still be doing it. Halogen knew they could have it done in half the time and get it right the first try."

Results

The cost savings for Cabell Huntington Hospital from the implementation have been considerable. In the first year, the Hospital estimates, just in man-hours and paper costs, that it will save over $50 000. "I have already recommended Halogen Performance Healthcare to other organizations," said Getter. "I am already trying to get Halogen's name out there. I am trying to spread the word because I am so happy with Halogen."

Using Halogen Performance Healthcare, Cabell Huntington Hospital has been able to regulate what forms are being used throughout the organization. Before the Hospital had six different forms in use. Some appraisals contained goal sections or tied back to the job descriptions while others did not. "The main difference between what we were doing on paper and what we are now doing on-line is consistency," said Getter. "Everyone is using the same basic form, though each of the 300 different forms has been configured for a specific job."

Tourigny's goal was to modernize the Hospital's out-date, paper-based appraisal process, but in the end he achieved more than that. Halogen Performance Healthcare has enabled the Hospital to achieve on-time employee appraisal completion rates that meet or exceed JCAHO requirements. In addition, as a result of reducing the time and paper involved in the appraisal process the Hospital has experienced immediate and significant savings. Tourigny looks forward to enjoying his new found popularity and to continued benefits as he works to more fully use all the features offered by the Halogen solution.