Increasing Productivity with Time-Tracking Software:
Some of the greatest challenges for today’s healthcare professionals revolve around staffing issues. And perhaps nowhere is this more true than within the optometric industry, where clinical and product needs converge, resulting in larger staffs than those typically found in medical office settings. Chief among these challenges is the issue of how to effectively manage employee time and attendance. While some doctors utilize punch-timeclocks, others still rely on the honor system where employees record their hours on paper forms, a system dependent on recall abilities and personal integrity. Both require that employee hours be tallied, audited and entered into financial management programs each pay period. Both are time-consuming and error-prone. And, neither protects against inaccurate or false data entries – which is especially problematic when time-tracking is dependent on the honor system. But, when errors in schedules mean errors on paychecks, the impact can devastate a business, bilking thousands of dollars from the bottom line, and interfering with productivity, employee morale and patient care.
When Dr. Eli Hendrix, Jr., OD first founded his storefront optometric office in 1945 he required minimal staff support. But in the intervening years, that has dramatically changed for the Indiana-based practice. Today, Dr. Hendrix’ practice has evolved into Eyeworks of Vincennes, a privately-owned, family-focused optometric eyecare center now staffed by his three sons: Dr. E.B. Hendrix, III, OD; Dr. Mark Hendrix, OD; Dr. J. Scott Hendrix, OD; and Dr. Rhett Baker, OD; all certified optometrists.
The thriving center now requires a staff of 20 employees, offers an on-site lab where patient lens prescriptions can be filled in under an hour, and provides convenient online ordering of contact lenses directly from its website.
According to Office Manage LouAnne Ditsler, Eyeworks of Vincennes takes great pride in using advanced technologies to best serve the needs of its patients. And while things on the clinical end appeared to be ‘humming,’ Ditsler considered the electronic timeclock old-fashioned and a drain on time and money. It was, says Ditsler, time to update the office’s management of employee time and attendance.
“We needed something compatible with computers,” she says, detailing the numerous administrative tasks between punch-in and payroll. “First, we were wasting a great deal of time converting decimal time, which the timeclock used, into a 24-hour clock, to compute daily totals. Then, at the end of each pay period, the hours each employee worked over the preceding two weeks had to be totaled and then, hand-entered into the payroll software.” It was, says Ditsler, a tedious, time-consuming process, that was also prone to errors in conversions and calculations.
“Because time-tracking serves as the basis for payroll, you want to feel like you’re working with accurate numbers, but there is such a loss of control when so many steps are involved before getting to the final equation.”
Ditsler believed the ideal solution would be a software program that could interface with QuickBooks, the payroll program used by the practice. “If we used a software application that could capture and import staff time and attendance directly into our payroll program, we could eliminate all those extra, time-consuming, error-prone tasks.”
Automating would also address another concern; the increasingly escalating costs of timecard supplies. So, when the old timeclock the practice had relied on for so many years broke in 2001, Ditsler saw it as a blessing in disguise.
“Electronic timeclocks are actually very expensive and when you add in the cost of supplies and associated waste, it’s no bargain,” she contends.
The search for a new system was conducted through the Internet, where Ditsler learned about the varying systems available in the marketplace. She came across a fingerprint timecard made by award-winning, Chicago-based developer Count Me In, LLC and was initially intrigued that the system met her chief criteria: affordability combined with PC and QuickBooks-compatibility. Those features plus its use of recognition technology sparked her interest.
“Count Me In’s Timecard Monitor also impressed me as being easy-to-install and user-friendly for our employees,” she says. “Then, there was the added bonus that biometrics brings to the table: quick, easy employee clock-in and the inability to clock-in for a co-worker.
The system’s exclusive LightningID fingerprint identification engine authenticates the identity of each employee with two finger taps on a digital sensor, unlike magnetic strip, barcode and PIN (personal identification number) systems, which can only verify the card not who inserts it. Although the American Payroll Association reports that buddy-punching is a common form of time-theft that costs American businesses as much as eight percent of their gross annual payrolls, Ditsler says that while it was not an issue at Eyeworks, she was pleased to have the added level of security.
“There were significant improvements and cost reductions after we implemented Timecard Monitor. We reduced office supplies costs and gained greater confidence that the data being fed into payroll was based on accurate numbers. Now, all I have to do is simply check to make sure no one forgot to clock-in or out. And Melissa, our bookkeeper, is thrilled that she no longer has to convert decimal time to into a.m./p.m. hours on 20 timecards. It’s a more cost-effective, more efficient way of doing things. I’ve personally shaved off as much as five hours of administrative time every pay period.”
Ditsler and the entire office staff are able to use their time more productively, attending to core business matters rather than processing timecards. And when it comes to the business of healthcare, the keys to success are similar to those for any other business: minimized overhead costs with maximum productivity and efficiency. Ditsler believes that Timecard Monitor helped Eyeworks achieve these objectives.