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Improvements in a ‘Decentralized World’ of Healthcare HR

A few years ago, Sanford Health’s HR department looked a lot like the ones at many other large organizations. Based in Sioux Falls, S.D., the rural health system’s HR team covered 240 locations across multiple states. Though its HR services were often exemplary, they didn’t always meet high expectations, says David Long, director of Sanford Health’s Employee Service Center and HR operations.

“Our HR world was a decentralized world,” Long says, which led to inefficiencies. The other major issue is that Sanford Health’s HR program was typically available only during traditional business hours. “That’s not good enough at a healthcare organization where people are working 24/7.”

Long and his team agreed there was room for improvement. “We knew we had to do a better job of providing HR information to our employees when and where they needed it,” he says. “That’s when we decided to use ServiceNow and to go down the path of creating an employee portal.”

The portal is an online tool that employees can use to get help with requests and questions across HR and IT, Long says. The platform combines two ServiceNow modules, HR Service Delivery and IT Service Management, and users can access it through a mobile app.

“At your desk, on your smartphone, in the middle of the night, on a Saturday or Sunday, it doesn’t matter,” Long says. “You can get information on just about anything.”

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If new employees have questions about their benefits or how to set up direct deposits, for example, they can log in to the portal and search by keyword to find an answer instantly.

What about a clinician who needs to take a leave of absence but doesn’t know where to begin? “All they have to do is type ‘leave,’” Long says, “and the search engine will get them everything they need.”

Brad Schoenfelder, who manages IT for human resources at Sanford Health as vice president of people solutions, says the tool’s self-service functionality is what makes it so valuable to the organization. Members of the HR department’s “knowledge” team produce custom content for the platform. The articles are then regularly edited and updated based on feedback from ServiceNow users.

The result is that the more the platform is used, the better it gets for everyone, Schoenfelder says. HR and IT alike benefit from automation, spending less time fielding routine calls and requests. And clinicians and other employees now have more freedom to help themselves at a time and place that’s convenient for them.

“Now they have what they want: information at their fingertips,” Schoenfelder says.



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