Children's hospitals: The ideal candidates for an intelligent ERP system

Amid declining reimbursements, increasing consolidation and heightened pressure to reduce costs, Children's hospitals must address challenges related to national healthcare trends while simultaneously tackling issues unique to pediatric providers.

Many children's hospitals are turning to technological advancements, coupled with data and analytics, to achieve more efficient workforce, financial and supply chain operations, along with increased cost savings.

In a June 28 webinar sponsored by Workday and hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Spencer Kowal, vice president of financial strategy for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Robert Shoemaker, executive director of finance at Dayton (Ohio) Children's Hospital, discussed how intelligent enterprise resource planning technology can help children's hospitals address broader healthcare challenges, as well as challenges specific to children's hospitals.

Why children's hospitals are well-positioned to benefit from technology optimization

Children's hospitals contain several unique characteristics that make them well-positioned to benefit from an intelligent ERP system. For one, children's hospital haven't gone through significant merger and acquisition activity, according to Mr. Kowal.

"We often don't have hospitals in multiple states [with] multiple ERP systems," he said. "This means the culture and mission in our organizations is fairly well-established."

Such a contained environment allows children's hospitals to more quickly adapt to a new ERP structure and see improvements faster compared to more expansive health systems.   

Mr. Kowal acknowledged children's hospitals also face many of the same operational challenges as typical acute care hospitals, including siloed reporting, inconsistent business processes and little transparency into cost and operational data — all of which could be solved with the help of an intelligent ERP system.

The benefits of an intelligent ERP system

CHOP and Dayton Children's Hospital represent two leading children's hospitals using intelligent ERP to optimize human capital management, supply chain and financial operations.

Before adopting the solution, Mr. Shoemaker said Dayton Children's relied on many disparate systems across its network. The hospital was spurred to implement the ERP system after its human resources and payroll system were scheduled to sunset in March 2018.

"Our original plan called for just replacing those two systems, but we quickly determined we needed a whole ERP solution," Mr. Shoemaker said. "This change was a great opportunity for us to keep pace with the growing complexity of human resources and financial functions and eliminate many manual processes that had been in place for years."

Another key driver for the implementation was the desire for access to more timely information. Mr. Shoemaker said staff members used to dump hospital data from various sources into an Excel sheet to analyze. Now, the hospital relies on Workday's reporting functionality to build custom reports with more accurate data and send them straight to managers and directors. Mr. Shoemaker believes this real-time data will help hospitals prepare for future challenges like bundled payments and risk-sharing.

Mr. Kowal said CHOP was looking for an ERP system to help improve the hospitals' financial operations by restructuring the hospital's charge accounts, standardizing business processes and increasing data transparency.

While CHOP has not gone live on Workday's system yet, Mr. Kowal expects the ERP solution to help the hospital achieve its goal of identifying and implementing $120 million in financial improvements over the next three years.

Workday's ERP solution also appealed to CHOP for its workforce management and supply chain benefits, including dependable management reporting capabilities, an improved end user experience and support for sustained behavioral change among staff members, according to Mr. Kowal.

"We wanted an ERP system that allowed the hospital to dynamically change business processes as the organization changed. We were also looking for a user-driven approach that provided a better overall human resources and finance experience for employees," he said. "We need excellent supply chain infrastructure to ensure we can quickly fill these needs ... with less manual intervention and at a lower price point."

To view the webinar, click here.

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