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Dome - Built-in Efficiency

Dome December 2014

Built-in Efficiency

Date: December 5, 2014

From timekeeping to scheduling to staffing to payroll, Kronos unifies workforce management.


Cheryl Shoats, MRI manager in the Department of Readiology and Radiological Sciences, scans in to work with her fingerprint.
Cheryl Shoats, MRI manager in the Department of Readiology and Radiological Sciences, scans in to work with her fingerprint.

Carol Ball remembers what it was like to track on paper the attendance of 1,400 nurses and nursing staff at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center: “Picture a piece of paper for signing in and signing out, and then a payroll assistant would have to match that up and make sure it was correct according to your schedule,” says Ball, Johns Hopkins Bayview’s senior director of nursing and administration. “If you were scheduled to come in at 7 a.m. but didn’t come in until 7:15, the payroll person would have to make that adjustment manually.”

Two years ago, Ball’s department shifted to Kronos, an electronic workforce management tool that integrates timekeeping, scheduling, staffing and payroll documentation. The difference is night and day for managers, she says. “Kronos has allowed us to become more efficient and effective in payroll and the attendance system. When staff members swipe in, Kronos can determine if they are on time according to the electronic schedule. If it is different than the schedule, the manager or charge nurse can see the change on their prescheduled daily exception report and decide whether or not to approve in the time card.”

Once used primarily as a timekeeping tool, Kronos now offers an array of integrated applications designed to cut down on labor costs, which account for approximately $3 billion—or 45 percent—of the Johns Hopkins Health System’s annual expenses, says Jeromy Jordan, the health system’s director of financial systems and program director for the enterprise installation of Kronos.

The streamlined management system also gives employees more control over their schedules, Jordan says. “We’re introducing ways for employees and managers alike to dynamically take part in the scheduling process. They can do it online and through mobile devices, within the rules of the organization.”

Kronos is transforming comprehensive workforce management for Johns Hopkins Health System employees across the enterprise. Timekeeping, scheduling and staffing functions are now integrated for all seven outpatient pharmacies under the direction of Johns Hopkins Home Care Group. Next year, Howard County General and Suburban hospitals will merge timekeeping and scheduling systems in Kronos. Integrated Kronos systems are also slated to go live at All Children’s and Sibley Memorial hospitals.

The 2013 integration of timekeeping and scheduling systems in Kronos has spared outpatient pharmacy managers the chore of making sure that the hours worked by 150 employees correspond to their schedules, and it allows them to spend more time on patient care initiatives, according to Jean Freels, education manager for the outpatient pharmacies. Before, “the two systems—scheduling and timekeeping—didn’t speak to each other,” Freels says. Managers, for example, had to manually cross-check Kronos records and schedules to determine whether an employee had swiped in late or had arranged to change a shift.  

“This application is holding all of our employees to the same standard, and employees know what is expected of them,” Freels says.

Scheduling has become much easier as well. Once approved, an employee’s vacation dates are automatically entered into the schedule. In Kronos, managers can keep better track of expenditures, Freels says. “For example, if an employee needs to report to work at one pharmacy location rather than another, Kronos will transfer the record of the shift, and associated costs, to the new cost center when the employee swipes in.”

When The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Department of Radiology and Radiological Science switched from the Workforce Management electronic system to Kronos this past summer, “we thought we may as well roll out with the latest technology,” says Peg Cooper, radiology operations administrator. Instead of using the employee badge to swipe in, 420 non-nursing staff, including transport personnel, technologists, front desk employees and others working at imaging sites throughout the health system, scan in and out with their fingers. “It’s a more precise way to ensure that people get paid accurately,” Cooper says.

Staff members are still getting accustomed to the high-tech changes, Cooper says. It helps morale that she and other department managers scan their fingers upon arriving at work. Says Cooper: “I even did a selfie of me swiping my finger so that the staff knows that leaders are embracing the technology.”

—Stephanie Shapiro