The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health), part of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), includes a 450-bed tertiary care hospital, 21 outpatient clinics, 14 Mile Square Health Center facilities, and seven UIC health science colleges. UI Health is dedicated to the pursuit of health equity.
UI Health used numerous systems, including 80 at the hospital alone, to manage its workforce of 5,500 people. The organization had multiple timekeeping and scheduling systems and a separate leave management system ― none of which interfaced with one another or with the organization’s core HR solution. This situation challenged UI Health managers in easily accessing workforce data for effective management and timely, informed decisions.
A workflow analysis revealed that house supervisors and unit charge nurses were spending an inordinate amount of time scheduling staff, a time-consuming task that pulled them away from focusing on patient care and working with other nurses. The process also created scheduling and payroll errors.
“We recognized quickly that, if we could add people who were staffing experts, we could alleviate unit supervisors from doing that kind of work, and they could focus on managing the house and more quality-related matters,” said Osei Omoike, Director of Nursing Informatics and Information Systems at UI Health.
A lack of forecasting and real-time data also made aligning staff assignments with patient workload across the organization challenging, which impacted labor costs and employee engagement. In addition, staff couldn’t see their timecards until they received their paychecks, further impacting their engagement.
To leverage the benefits of using a single, comprehensive solution, UI Health implemented the UKG Pro Workforce Management™ solution, formerly known as UKG Dimensions®, which interfaces with the organization’s core HR systems. UI Health deployed the advanced scheduling solution with all inpatient nursing units first and then with the respiratory therapy and admitting departments, with further deployments planned.
"We needed the ability to integrate our staff scheduling with timekeeping, have analytics to enable our workforce management to have a very co-principled approach, and have one solution that provides basic and advanced scheduling, leave administration, and timekeeping. Also, it’s a misnomer that the UKG advanced scheduling solution is just for acute-care inpatient scheduling. We know it’s an enterprise-wide solution."
Senior Director of Human Resources, UI Health
Managers and timekeepers were the first to be trained on the UKG solution through in-person and live virtual sessions. Users have found the simulation links in the training especially helpful in understanding the system and new workflows, and user adoption has been enhanced with UKG® training materials, a portal dedicated to UKG solution information, manager office hours, and refresher training.
Quickly meeting changing staffing needs
With the implementation of the UKG Pro Workforce Management solution, UI Health was able to standardize processes and workflows and then centralize its previously decentralized staffing processes. The Nursing Resource Office now has visibility into all nursing staff schedules and is responsible for balancing unit schedules daily and handling absence reporting. With charge nurses no longer devoting time to these tasks, they are saving 32 hours each month.
“It’s good practice to free up these nurses, who are great clinicians, to focus on patient care, whether it’s helping with quality care or onboarding new hires,” said Omoike. “We have been able to centralize staffing and absence reporting with UKG.”
Using the solution, unit supervisors now have real-time data and reports at their fingertips, helping them align staffing with changing patient workloads in each unit during each shift.
The central staffing office is using UKG to redeploy staff throughout the organization to address shifting patient volume. Department managers also can see the names of reassigned staff on updated department schedules.
Improved productivity and labor cost management
“With UKG, we’re seeing more involvement from staff, reductions in requests to adjust time, and managers accessing data directly to better manage their staff,” shared Waite. “And to avoid overstaffing and understaffing, we’re using the advanced scheduling system to improve our operations.”
This has helped UI Health better manage labor costs, including overtime and supplemental pay. In addition, the solution has helped the organization track hours and differential data, with reports easily pulled from the system. Information from UKG also supported the labor relations department during contract negotiations.
The Nursing Care Committee plays an important role in governance at UI Health. Made up of staff nurses and union representatives, the committee reviews historical and real-time staffing and patient data, employee feedback, consultant recommendations, and regulatory requirements relative to the workforce and quality outcomes. The chief nursing officer (CNO) regularly reports on the work of the committee to the hospital’s senior executive team. This underscores the value that the organization places on the workforce and the decisions that impact them.
Mobile functionality enhances staff engagement, streamlines processes
Staff members enjoy using the UKG mobile app to view their schedules and self-schedule, make shift swaps, pick up open shifts, request time off, and see their timecards before payroll processing ― benefits that are improving staff satisfaction, engagement, retention, and productivity as well as adoption of the solution.
“Having employees be able to use their phones to see their schedules and do self-scheduling is very important to us, as is managers having visibility into information to better manage their staff and having direct access to their analytics,” said Katie Peters, Assistant Director of HR Operations at UI Health.
The added value of mobile technology was demonstrated during a two-week shift-fill pilot program with the supplemental staffing team. Typically, charge nurses and the staffing office spend hours and hours calling hundreds of nurses to fill open shifts.
“The pilot showed us the improvement in efficiency ― because we’re not calling everyone but are sending out one text message to massive groups of people that UKG has identified as being potentially available, most probable to work, and appropriately skilled,” said Lisa Potts, Associate CNO for Nursing Operations and Nursing Informatics at UI Health.
UKG mobile technology also is supporting UI Health’s strategy to provide staff with increased visibility and access to information on new eight-week schedule intervals. With bargaining-agreement work rules configured in UKG, schedules automatically open up for the right groups of staff in the right order. Using their mobile devices, staff members can sign up for shifts weeks in advance, enabling them to better plan their lives.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hourly employees working remotely used the mobile app to easily clock in and out, which also was a benefit for managers in managing these employees.
As UI Health looks to expand its use of UKG across the organization, Peters said the organization looks forward to increasing its use of mobile functionality and fostering further transparency.
“Transparency is a big deal to us,” she said, noting how important it is in creating a positive work environment that supports the delivery of high-quality patient care.