“Out of necessity, we’re in one of the steepest learning curves of our professional careers,” said Emily LaFeir, Senior Director of Operations at the Steele Institute for Health Innovation at Geisinger.
When COVID-19 hit, it felt as if everyone’s lives and jobs had changed seemingly overnight. Workforces, like Geisinger Health System, had to quickly become remote. Others need to rapidly retrain their skills in order fill the critical gaps and safely treat patients.
Geisinger Health System, a Pennsylvania-based health care provider, services over 3 million patients and employs a staff of 26,500, including physicians, advanced practitioners and support staff. With nine hospital campuses, a medical college, a nursing school, and two research facilities as part of their system, officials needed to find a way to continue to serve patients and meet the needs of their employees.
Faced with pivoting and responding to a global pandemic, they turned to Quickbase to increase speed to value by rapidly deploying applications that reassigned employees and provided those in need with financial assistance. More than 2,000 jobs have been filled and vulnerable employees were able to receive financial assistance in less than 48 hours. As the organization plans for future work post-COVID-19 they have seen the impact low-code can have on streamlining operations, rapidly implementing new workstreams, and connecting departments across the whole organization.
- Non-patient facing employees needed to now operate remotely and be connected to data and communicate across the health system
- Needed a way to quickly fill critical jobs with people not needed in their current jobs due to COVID-19
- This reassignment process was being managed on Excel spreadsheets, making it difficult and time-consuming
- Executive staff wanted to find a way to quickly and efficiently set up an emergency fund to help those employees most in need
- Developed a reassignment application using Quickbase to help fill the gaps where there were greater critical needs
- Accelerated digital transformation to quickly support departments across Geisinger and strategically plan for a post-COVID-19
- Created a form using Quickbase that automates emergency fund eligibility for those employees in need
- Quickly set up applications with automation features allowing for a simplified intake system
- Reassigned more than 2,000 employees to roles to help fill those critical gaps
- Developed reassignment application in about one week and trained staff to use it in just one day
- Quick application development of the employee emergency fund form allowed Human Resources to make important decisions and transfer funds to employees in need within 48 hours
- Significant impact on people’s personal lives and ability to help patients within the health system
Filling Critical Gaps
COVID-19 put a tremendous and sudden strain on Geisinger’s medical resources. With a nearly 50% decline in outpatient visits, but a greater need in an inpatient setting, Human Resources leadership needed an immediate system to reassign medical staff to address the urgent and shifting health needs of patients.
“We had to figure out a way to fill the gaps where we had greater clinical needs and fill them with people who were not needed in their current job,” said Becky Miller, Associate Vice President of Human Resources. “Some of our nurses, physicians and advanced practitioners had not been in the inpatient setting for some time, so that was our immediate focus. How do we get their skills refreshed and match patients’ needs with the staff that we had?”
LaFeir said the institute had just started to adopt Quickbase to streamline their intake system when everything changed.
Because of Quickbase’s speed to value, LaFeir said her team needed only a week to develop an application that streamlined the reassignment process, minimizing the amount of time it would have taken to extract employee data from an enormous spreadsheet.
“The time saved to not have to have that development team build that automation in that process was significant,” LaFeir said.
Miller said the application allowed managers who needed roles filled were able to submit their needs into a Quickbase application, while other managers would submit available staff. Her team then used the Quickbase application to not only match up skills, but it also helped to as identify where some staff needed retraining, track their progress, and notify employees via email.
Her team, who had to quickly adjust to new responsibilities, has since used the application to reassign more than 2,000 employees.
“It was an overnight change for us,” Miller said. “Emily’s team helped us at 1 p.m. on a Thursday and we were utilizing in on Friday.”
Helping Employees in Need
In addition to being a public health crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused an enormous financial strain. Geisinger executive staff, in addition to taking a salary cut, wanted to create an emergency fund in order to help those employees in need.
LaFeir’s team used Quickbase to quickly create a public form to help the Human Resources team identify those in need and automate the eligibility and distribution processes.
“It allows the HR team to focus on what they need to focus on,” LaFeir said. “When an application is approved it tracks the total pool of dollars and pulls down from that pool to show us how much of the fund is available.”
“Our team needs [that data] every day to make decisions,” Miller said. “We have that money deposited in employee’s bank account within 48 hours of a decision so … that is really impactful.”
Preparing for the Future
While there will be a return to normal in some ways, the Geisinger team is aware that COVID-19 will drastically and permanently alter the health landscape in many other ways.
Miller and LaFeir intend to continue implementing Quickbase to meet those challenges.
“We’re going to learn a host of new skills and processes,” LaFeir said. “[COVID-19] will really pivot the way Geisinger functions, and what was normal of creating meetings and being in conferences rooms, and now being virtual and looking at digital leadership and how to lead a team from afar is something we’ll take forward.”
Miller said she also sees a very different post-COVID-19 world.
“Prior to COVID-19 we had about 2,000 employees who were working remotely. We increased that by 4,000 almost overnight,” she said. “As we look at how much contact is needed, where people are needed to be, we are starting to already develop plans for the future in terms of how our employees will work.”