Talking with Debra Palmer, MS, RN, Chief Human Resource Officer and Corporate Compliance Officer at Fairfield Medical Center, always inspires me. She’s a woman with a lot of energy, a clear direction and a passion for empowering her team.
That energy and passion has revitalized Fairfield Medical Center’s HR strategy. Debra recognized that the HR team should be a valued contributor to operational strategy, and that meant they needed to focus on updating their processes and technology. To help them build and execute a strategy to do that, Fairfield Medical Center turned to API Healthcare. Debra explains, “API Healthcare has helped us leverage technology in a way that not only gets business results, but also utilizes the best of our employee talent to care for our patients.”
With streamlined HR processes and integrated technology in place, the HR team can now use data to bring value to the hospital’s operational strategy. Debra summarizes, “Because we were able to bring information and metrics to leadership in a timely manner we were successfully able to demonstrate our value and worth to the organization and the overall bottom line. Perceptions today are 180 degrees different than they were when we started this process. Efficiencies and satisfaction scores are up, and API Healthcare has prepared us to remain agile and ready to support Fairfield Medical Center’s growth goals today and in the future.”
If you’d like to learn more about Fairfield Medical Center’s HR successes, take a look at their case study.
Achieving financial sustainability for the long term is a challenging task for any healthcare organization, especially in a performance-based market where the focus is on improving health, not just delivering care. More organizations are finding themselves in the position of having to compete for business as insurance reform has given consumers a greater choice of where to seek treatment. As the industry adapts to these changes, healthcare leaders are finding new ways to meet their financial and care quality goals.
Mergers and acquisitions are becoming more common as healthcare leaders realize that these types of transactions can help achieve the economies of scale necessary to thrive in an evolving and challenging market environment. However, according to Mukesh Gangwal and George Whetsell, managing partners with Chicago-based Prism Healthcare, health systems may not realize the economies they seek if they form regional systems, and then are unable to do relevant benchmarking to assess staffing needs.1
Anyone who has been through a merger or acquisition transaction knows that the workforce is often the first to experience the impact. In healthcare the workforce is the most costly and valuable resource, with labor accounting for 54.2% of operating costs.2 As such, it makes sense that any post-merger transition programs are designed to improve productivity and reduce labor expenses. By putting people issues first and ensuring that the workforce clearly understands what is expected of them and how their work provides value, it is likely that the workforce will respond more positively to the transaction. If the processes that touch them are carefully thought out and expertly managed, and include a focus on retention of key talent, any merger or acquisition will stand a better chance of success.
A single workforce management system and technology vendor can eliminate the need for redundancy, improve the availability of accurate data, and create more consistent processes across all the newly merged groups. Technology also allows for a more proactive approach to staffing based on patient need, which is a significant staff satisfier.
Every employee is impacted by workforce management strategies, and it is especially noticeable following a merger or acquisition. Post-merger or acquisition plans must consider all affected parties, particularly when it comes to pay and scheduling policies. Shared governance means creating cross-functional teams to represent each affected group and giving them ownership of the changes and direction for new policies.
Bringing together multiple facilities inevitably means that decisions will need to be made about whether or not to standardize pay, benefit, HR and staffing policies. Whenever possible, it makes sense to standardize payroll and personnel-related policies across the entire enterprise. While standardization can seem daunting in the short term, it’s a time and resource saver in the long run. And, when a system of shared governance is used to make decisions about how to standardize the policies, it can create a collaborative environment that drives positive change.
View the workforce as a whole
When two or more organizations come together through a merger or acquisition, viewing the workforce as a single entity can achieve many financial benefits. For example, it can help determine whether FTEs can be shared between facilities, and if so, what is the best way to make it happen. Any culture of shared resources must be supported by software that can track and manage the combined workforce. A single, integrated staffing and scheduling solution can support enterprise-wide float pools more effectively than multiple disparate systems or manual scheduling processes.
Following a merger or acquisition, retention of employees and key talent should be a top priority. The quicker employees can be integrated into a cohesive, optimized resource for the entire organization, the sooner the economies of scale will be realized.
For more information about workforce management strategies before, during and after a merger or acquisition, check out our white paper.