July 12, 2022
Confluence Health leaders share their compelling outcomes after deploying Infor artificial intelligence tools
What keeps Tom up at night? Tom Legel, the CFO at Confluence Health — an integrated healthcare delivery system including two hospitals and over 300 physicians servicing approximately 260,000 people in north-central Washington — says it begins with one simple thing: travelers.
When hospitals have gaps to fill due to staff shortages, seasonality, extended absences, or training, they turn to travel healthcare professionals. That includes traveling nurses, who step in temporarily and work alongside the core team. Confluence Health is spending a significant amount on travelers. In the first quarter of 2022, $10.6 million was spent on travelers versus $4 million for the same period the previous year.
It’s not just Confluence Health facing labor challenges. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Covid-19 pandemic intensified healthcare workforce challenges, leading to significant staffing shortages, increased healthcare worker burnout, and other hurdles that will likely persist.
“One of the big challenges for the future of healthcare is to do more with less resources,” Tom said. “Partnering with Infor has really helped us take advantage of technology and automation to be more efficient and save time, so we can reduce the demand for resources as we grow. For example, we just implemented Infor Coleman Digital Assistant, which allows any staff member to get fast answers to inquiries on supply through a simple voice command or text chat. Time is no longer wasted searching to find supplies or check status, giving back valuable time save to deliver better patient care.”
Outcomes of identifying and applying innovative technology
Stace Webley, Confluence Health’s financial systems support manager, worked closely with Infor’s Platform Technology team to become an early adopter of Infor’s artificial intelligence (AI) tools integrated with Infor CloudSuite Healthcare. Infor CloudSuite Healthcare is multi-tenant cloud ERP designed specifically for healthcare providers. These new AI tools include the Infor Coleman Digital Assistant, Inventory Intelligence, Vendor Performance, and Office of Inspector General (OIG) Vendor Check.
Using these software solutions, Confluence Health can now execute key supply management processes at least 90% faster. AI-driven software automation has enabled users to reduce time to execute these key processes from hours to minutes and minutes to seconds.
“Infor is very forward thinking, and these were tools we weren't necessarily thinking we needed at the time, but when they were shown to us, we realized we really needed them,” Stace shared. “We knew the value that they would bring to us by changing manual tasks into automated tasks, making things easier, but also more accurate. We were not only surprised by just the forward thinking of Infor in the development of these tools, but also how fast it was to deploy. We were able to implement all these new tools in under 90 days.”
Improving staff experiences and productivity
Knowing that recruiting and retaining employees due to labor shortages is top of mind for the CFO, Stace realized the Coleman Digital Assistant also had the potential to improve employee satisfaction by alleviating the pain and anxiety the staff experiences when trying to locate supplies in a timely manner. Aja Rodriguez, a stat certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Confluence Health, is a dedicated resource who floats from floor to floor and gets essential things for patients once certain departments are closed. She often faces tremendous stress when she walks into a storeroom, especially when a patient needs emergency care.
“During the night shift, there's not a lot of resources for me to contact, so there's a lot of pressure on me to get something immediately, especially if a patient is coding,” Aja explained. “I would say one of the most critical items we have in the storeroom is Belmont tubing for rapid transfusions. Before, if you did not know where that was located, it could cost a patient's life. With Coleman Digital Assistant, it is like Siri. I can search for that item with a voice command to my mobile phone, on my way to the storeroom, and know exactly where it is and grab it quickly for the best outcome for the patient.”
With Coleman Digital Assistant, Aja can now locate supplies in seconds where previously it could take up to 15 minutes. “Before Coleman Digital Assistant, I would get a phone call from the floor needing an item. I would walk to the storeroom and look up an item in a paper binder, and if you don't know those little tricks of what things are named exactly, it's impossible to find the item in the storeroom, and you can wander around the storeroom for sometimes 15 minutes trying to find the item,” she elaborated.
Reducing costs while improving care
Like many healthcare leaders, debt is another challenge that keeps Tom, the CFO, up at night.
Infor CloudSuite Healthcare has helped Confluence Health leaders better understand the cost of the care they provide, so they can create strategies to lower the cost without compromising care.
“The use of the Infor systems has helped us understand what our supply chain costs are and what the costs are involved in caring for the patients, making sure that we're able to get the supplies on time and have enough supplies in stock to care for our patients at any time,” said Tom.
To optimize inventory by having the right amount of stock for patient care, while not being overstocked, Confluence Health implemented Infor Inventory Intelligence. This AI-driven solution replaces a very manual, error-prone process that sometimes takes hours to calculate reorder points in one location.
“Finding the right stocking level is a challenge, and it's a process that you go through all the time, because trends can change, usage can change,” Stace added. “Sometimes you bring in new products, and sometimes products that you have been using are no longer in your system anymore. So, it's an ongoing process. And with Inventory Intelligence, you get to continually analyze those changes within your ERP system, and then review the recommendations. And from there, it's as easy as pushing a button that you want to accept those changes, and it will push through new reorder points to your items. With an automated solution, we not only save time, but also have more confidence in our stock levels.”
Overcoming challenges with AI
As Confluence Health continues to partner with Infor, the expectation includes additional integrated AI tools to be rolled out to help lessen the pain around costs without compromising care.
“The interesting thing about healthcare is things change all the time, and there are always new challenges and issues that come up. I think it's how organizations and people respond to those challenges that makes a difference for the patients and the communities that we serve,” Tom pointed out. “We would highly recommend Infor. If you are a healthcare institution, come look at what we've done to improve the quality, effectiveness, and care of our patients. Without Infor, I don't think we would be where we are today in all three of those areas.”
Learn more about AI solutions from Infor.
Download Infor CloudSuite Financials Coleman Digital Assistant Skill Pack, which provides ready-to-use skills to help maximize human work potential with skills designed to navigate, advise, and take action.
By Mona Patel
Industry & Solution Strategy Direction
Infor Platform Technology Team