April 11, 2003

Labor, productivity information now available via Internet at VUMC

Featured Image

Labor, productivity information
now available via Internet at VUMC

The university recently began giving managers Internet access to more timely and complete labor and productivity information. To aid financial performance, Vanderbilt wants to help managers understand, anticipate and exert greater control over variations in labor cost.

“I love it. I think this is wonderful data,” said Julie Foss, manager of the medical intensive care unit and the third floor round wing general medicine unit. She said the new reports help identify more precisely the drivers of labor cost and help her budget more accurately.

Users of the new password protected, Web-format twice-per-month labor reports and monthly FTE (full-time equivalent) reports can switch between various views and levels of data, including drilling down to costs associated with individual staff positions. According to their individual access privileges, managers can view different amalgamations of cost centers to tailor reports to their individual span of responsibility. For better comparison with national data, direct patient care and non-patient care labor costs are broken out. The labor reports are available on the VUMC intranet (from any Web-enabled computer) on the Monday after the close of each pay period.

The Financial Information Systems (FIS) team, which includes directors of various VUMC and university departments, was formed three years ago to advise Management Information Systems on priorities related to financial systems. The new reports stem from an FIS proposal for a bona fide system of labor management at Vanderbilt. The FIS team is sponsored by Rick Wagers, VUMC senior vice president and chief financial officer; Betty Price, associate vice chancellor finance/controller; and David Tuleen, associate provost.

The former paper reports, released two weeks after the close of each pay period, were audited by managers merely to ensure that labor charges were correct.

“We really needed to also be using labor information to better manage our business,” said Donna Kilpatrick, director, Department of Finance —financial systems coordination and support.

Hospital and clinic managers use the new reports to write their bimonthly reports on budget cost variances.

“We’re seeing tremendous growth in managers’ understanding of the factors that drive their labor costs,” said Ann Underhill, assistant director, Department of Finance — patient care center finance.

To help managers track productivity in terms of labor costs per unit of service, the reports include work volume data such as occupied beds and clinic visits. Instead of the previous four categories of non-productive costs — vacation, holiday, sick and “other” — managers now also see costs for jury duty, bereavement leave, orientation, training, and so on. Foss said this more comprehensive tracking of non-productive costs helps with budgeting.

Labor costs are compared to budget and to cost-per-unit-of-service targets. Foss said that in a recent reporting period in which one of her units ran over budget, the new report format was able to show more easily that the cost overrun had a legitimate cause in a surge in patient volume; while the unit ran over budget, it managed to come in under its cost-per-unit-of-service target.

To get to the data, turn your browser to https://webapp.mis.vanderbilt.edu/waldo/Controller.