Medical foundation transforms employee appraisals into a simple, ongoing process

Jim Frain says Halogen Performance Healthcare has helped them be a better organization and become an indispensable management tool.

Just as staying healthy requires regular check-ups and tests, maintaining a vital workforce requires regular evaluations of staff performance. South Bend Medical Foundation knows about both.

Customer profile

Headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, South Bend Medical Foundation's 850 employees provide a wide range of health care services for communities in Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois. The Foundation provides quality and cost effective laboratory and blood banking services to hospitals, physicians, and patients.

Challenge

Like every health care provider, the Foundation must carefully monitor staff performance, training, and accreditation. "And like most other health care organizations, we were struggling to keep current on evaluations and stay on top of the process," recalled Jim Frain, Vice President of Human Resources at South Bend Medical Foundation.

South Bend's HR department had set up a rudimentary paper-based employee performance evaluation system with pre-established due dates for staff appraisals, using templates for employee evaluations created in MS Word on a shared file drive. Evaluation results were then entered into the Foundation's HRIS. "We kept track of completed forms, but we had no way to know where managers were in the appraisal process, had they even started their appraisals, or were the appraisal forms sitting on someone's desk," Frain said. The make-shift system also presented a potential privacy and security risk — completed evaluations could inadvertently be saved back to a shared drive, and performance journals weren't stored in a secure central location.

Solution

South Bend decided to look for a performance management solution, with several goals in mind: "We were trying to make it easier for managers to complete the evaluation forms and to simplify the process. Secondly, we wanted to be able to hold managers accountable for the performance reviews," Frain said. The Foundation also needed secure, meaningful, and comparable reports that could be used as the basis for pay for performance throughout their different operations and regional offices.

After a quick evaluation of three competing products, Frain recommended that the Foundation purchase Halogen Performance™ Healthcare. Designed specifically for the healthcare industry, Halogen Performance Healthcare is a sophisticated web-based performance appraisal software application that transforms the traditional employee review from a laborious once-a-year task into a simple ongoing process.

Before deciding on Halogen Performance Healthcare, Frain called some of his colleagues in the healthcare field who were using the product, and was impressed by their reviews. "What they had to say really narrowed down our search," he said. "We did the web demo and Halogen's software clearly supported our objectives. We liked the idea of hosting internally — some vendors don't offer that option. And frankly, the price was very reasonable."

South Bend Medical Foundation began pilot evaluations in August 2005, with the goal of going live with the software on January 1, 2006. Installation and training went smoothly, Frain recalled. "I was surprised that at the end of three days of training, the four of us that were initially trained were very comfortable using the software. We started converting forms right away. And when we train our managers to use it, they can learn what they need to know and feel comfortable with the software in about 30 minutes — even the ones whom we consider 'computer challenged'!"

Results

Within three years of their purchase, South Bend is anticipating a 200 percent return on its investment in Halogen Performance Healthcare. Meanwhile, anecdotal reviews have been very positive. "Managers and vice-presidents who have used the new system really like the fact that the task menu clearly identifies where they are in the evaluation procedure and what they need to do next. It's a much easier way to manage the process," Frain said.

Employees are happy with the new performance management system, too. "They like having access to their past evaluations, and they like the input they can have in their current reviews," Frain said. In the past, employees were invited to add comments to their paper evaluations before signing the form at their end of their annual review. Now, they can review the evaluation and add comments electronically at any time after the evaluation interview is complete.

Frain added that employees have also used the electronic comment feature to make journal notes they can share with their managers and co-workers. For example, some have used the feature to commend colleagues for exemplary or additional work that their managers may not be aware of.

Thanks to Halogen Performance Healthcare, South Bend can now file and store staff evaluations more efficiently and securely. "Our evaluations were typically 4–5 pages long, and we'd print off one for each of our 850 workers and file those things. By storing them electronically, we save the paper and the filing space, and we know we'll never lose an evaluation. That's a huge advantage," Frain said.

Frain and his team have customized Halogen Performance Healthcare so that supervisors as well as managers can provide input into staff performance journals. Once this year's annual evaluations are complete, Frain's next goal is to add Halogen Compensation™, which automates pay-for-performance and compensation adjustment, including budget distribution and approval. "Trying to do that analysis now is painful," Frain admitted. "I'm excited about the idea of simplifying that process."

The HR team at the South Bend Medical Foundation has become a solid supporter of Halogen's software solutions. "We've recommended it to others, and I've told our story to healthcare HR groups and on web-based seminars," Frain said. "I'm a big fan of Halogen."