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API Improves Hospital Efficiency

HARTFORD, WI - A Wisconsin heath information technology software vendor that develops specialized hospital staffing and management software is expanding its solutions to include a module that will integrate personnel, time and attendance records with data from other hospital computer systems.

Automating Peripherals, Inc. (API), a Hartford, Wisconsin developer of systems that allows hospital administrators to manage complex payroll and scheduling challenges. Hospitals require software that can deal with the complex rules regarding who gets paid how much and for working which shifts. Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, Wisconsin is as beta-test site for the next module in API’s product line that will help its managrs to gauge staffing needs based on expected levels of activity.

According to Steve Pelton, chief information officer for Saint Joseph's,
“We are now working with API on a product called Labor Metrics. The product will build a real time database from various sources, take volumes and use them to create reports managers can see each day. Before, API we never had a way of taking these outside metrics and combining them with the real- time staffing information -- combining data from the hospital patient care system or hospital billing systems with the hours worked.”

In 1996, the company’s product line began to offer the capability of monitoring the number of hours worked in real-time, making it easier to schedule workers to avoid overtime. In a cost- and regulatory-sensitive environment of a modern hospital, tools like Garcia’s are key, according to one former hospital administrator, Sara Stanton of Stanton Healthcare Management, Waukesha.

“Efficiency within the operation of any healthcare organization is not a management theory to be considered, but a decisive tool whose application is necessary for cost control, staff development and financial viability,” Stanton said. “The healthcare organization operates within the fray of regulation, costs, technology, low staffing. The effective and wise management of these differing, and sometimes conflicting entities, is vital to the providing of high quality care.”
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“Hospitals are not like a manufacturing environment,” said API’s President Luis Garcia “It is not just a regular and over time shift differential. In hospitals, there are about 150 different rules on the pay scale for different hours and shifts.”

“A hospital has a certain serving capacity,” Garcia said, explaining the niche for the forthcoming Labor Metrics product. “Depending on how the hospital is built, you can increase that capacity depending on how you operate it through the use of these real-time integrated systems. You need to get information from the system and figure out where you need to open a valve, close a valve. Six Sigma attempts to do these things, but in the end all the data bogs you down.

API currently has 210 employees– including about 80 programmers – and is building a 50,000-square-foot building on the west side of Hartford. API’s first products focused on time and attendance program for hospitals. Garcia credits the company’s disciplined, vertical market approach with helping ensure its success. Garcia started his company in 1982 with $750,000 in venture capital from Mobile Oil and a small amount of financing from Firstar Bank.

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Chuck Rathmann is a freelance writer and contributor to Wisconsin Technology Network. He can be reached at chuck@wistechnology.com.

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