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0407 Ascentis Software

Special Advertisement: A case study at ER-One, a physician-owned emergency medicine management group.

June 30, 2004

M

ichigan-based ER-One, a physician-owned emergency medicine management group, provides physicians and other clinicians for hospital emergency. ER-One provides the highest quality of care for smaller community hospitals to fast-paced trauma centers, building quality emergency care one physician at a time.

ER-One is an umbrella company over two smaller divisions and employs approximately 180 total employees. The organization provides clinicians to local hospital emergency rooms so one division is made up of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants; all licensed, highly educated, and highly compensated. The second division is made up of support personnel; billers, coders and administrative staff. ER-One works out of five clinical sites and two administrative locations throughout the state.

Brainard joins ER-One as first-ever HR professional

Pat Brainard, director of HR for ER-One, was the first human resources professional hired to work at ER-One. She entered a situation in which electronic records were non-existent, there were limited records of clinicians, and only a homemade Access database was available as a reference. The database was not user-friendly and not properly maintained because too many employees were entering information in an inconsistent manner. The data was unreliable and sketchy at best.

Brainard's search for a HRMS begins

Brainard immediately began looking for a human resources management system. She needed one that could integrate multiple company locations and varying job positions and skills. A search on google.com introduced Brainard to Ascentis Software, creator of HROffice. Ascentis Software is based in Bellevue, Wash. and has been in the human resources software market for over ten years. Brainard considered three other HRMS options but quickly realized HROffice would best fit her needs. Once she narrowed down the search to four products, Brainard considered the following:

  • Buildability – The system had to be able to adapt to ER-One's future growth and HRIS needs.
  • Compatibility with clinical sites – Although PeopleSoft was a better match because many of the hospitals ER-One worked with used PeopleSoft, it was too expensive. HROffice is built on the latest technologies from Microsoft for easy integration with the tools HR departments already use on a day-to-day basis.
  • Customer service – The sales team at Ascentis was responsive to Brainard's needs and able to explain the features of their product so she could understand them easily. This was a good indicator of the service ER-One would receive after purchase.
  • Ease of reporting – Multiple requesters and multiple users would be relying on the ease of reporting and quality of reports. HROffice offered over 300 preformatted reports with the option of easily customizing and/or creating your own.
  • Ease of use – Staff with varying skill levels had to be able to effectively utilize the system. Wizard-based technology and a new XP-like interface make HROffice user-friendly and easy to implement.
  • Flexibility – Easy access to needed information without having to look through multiple screens.
  • Price – Budgetary constraints are always an issue.
  • Security by user – A role-based solution was required.

Brainard needed to solve multiple broad-stroke problems, including accuracy of information, compliance issues, ease of access to data and being able to report on it, and organization and consistency of data. More specifically ER-One needed to track:

  • Benefits enrollment, correspondence and associated fees.
  • Billable dollars as related to hours worked as a measure of productivity.
  • Continuing medical education expenses.
  • Contract specifications and expirations.
  • Educational details – medical school, residency, and fellowship.
  • Eligibility to work at specific sites – credentialing.
  • Licensure and special training – board certification(s).
  • Performance appraisals.
  • Salary information with bonuses and administrative stipends.
  • Status of recruits within the application and credentialing processes.

ER-One and Ascentis Partnership Timeline, HRMS search ends

Brainard was hired in November, researched multiple HRMS's, decided upon HROffice, had her secretary manually collect data from paper files and the legacy ER-One database, and was completely utilizing HROffice as her HRMS by the following February.

Specific ROI

Specific ROI dollar amounts are difficult to calculate since Brainard was new and didn't experience the previous manual procedures for long. However, some basic estimates, considering some of the reporting functions, indicate an initial savings of more than $6,000. More importantly, ER-One has significantly decreased its risk exposure and improved its strategic position. This will result in realized gains with recruitment and retention.

Some other benefits include:

  • Ability to report on just about anything within the database with ease.
  • Decreasing errors from manually tracking information in multiple places.
  • Easy reference to personnel files without having to physically get up, visit the file room and pull the paper file any time an employee has a question.
  • Increased accuracy of payments and enrollee information to insurance carriers.
  • Improved customer service to employees and vendors.

Future challenges Ascentis software will help solve

Payroll will be the next hurdle. Currently, paper timesheets and Excel spreadsheets are faxed to an external payroll company. Automating the system as they have done with the others will be an incredible timesaver. HROffice Payroll Link seamlessly integrates HROffice with whatever payroll solution a company is using. The unique link synchronizes employee data so both systems are always working off the same information.

After the payroll link is added, ER-One will be ready to tackle employee self-service (ESS) for online benefits enrollment and routine updates. Brainard is working with ER-One's insurance providers in an effort to streamline the process as much as possible.

Ascentis recently released HROffice 5.0, which introduced new management tools, improved performance, an updated Microsoft XP-like interface, and HROffice Self-Service with online open enrollment. With the release of HROffice Self-Service 5.0, employees have interactive control over their benefits and employee census information via the web. An employee can log onto ESS and participate in online open enrollment, view current company benefit information, attendance history and future availability, and update their personal information-including changes in benefits due to life events. HROffice Carrier Connect provides a direct link from employees to their insurance providers. When an employee participates in online open enrollment, their benefit information is electronically transmitted to both HIPAA and non-HIPAA carriers.

Brainard's final thoughts on HROffice

"Just because HROffice is not as convoluted as some other databases, it doesn't mean it isn't as powerful and effective. In fact, it has proven to be more powerful than I anticipated and yet always remains simple to use.

The staff at Ascentis Software is a pleasure to work with. Technical support consistently resolves issues in a timely fashion and helped expand my use of HROffice reporting features. I would highly recommend both the company and the products to any small or mid-sized organization."