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The healthcare industry is in flux with an aging population, rising costs, healthcare reform and policy uncertainties, emerging technologies, changing workforce models, and a shortage of healthcare professionals.

While the demand for healthcare services will continue to increase over the next decade, the supply of healthcare providers will substantially decrease. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Center for Workforce Studies, there will be a deficiency of 45,000 primary care physicians and a lack of 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists. A Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies report states that the East and West Coasts will have nursing shortages by 2025. Arizona will have the largest scarcity, with 28,100 fewer registered nurses than necessary; North Carolina and Colorado will each need 12,900 nurses, followed by Maryland, which will require 12,100 registered nurses.

Healthcare organizations face numerous human resources-related challenges, including talent acquisition, retention, and employee engagement that are currently heightened issues in their industry. They also must address an extensive list of guidelines by The Joint Commission to ensure safe, high-quality care and service, in addition to complying with an enormous number of regulations to verify staff qualifications, provide orientation and ongoing training, and ensure staff sensitivity to cultural diversity.

ScottMadden is the leader in assisting healthcare organizations in addressing these challenges. The outcomes from our engagements resolve issues and transform and position human resources to increase effectiveness and drive value for the organization. This article relays one such experience.

Healthcare Shared Services Case History: The Virginia Commonwealth University

The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System is one such health organization facing these challenges, as mentioned earlier. The VCU Health System includes the VCU Medical Center (the region’s only academic medical center and Level I trauma center), VCU Community Memorial Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond, and Medical College of Virginia (MCV) Physicians. With over 12,000 employees and more than 16,000 non-employees, including university staff, visiting physicians, contractors, agency staff, and volunteers, VCU Health System’s human resources department needed a transformation.

“We wanted to explore new options for Healthcare Shared Services to improve internal support and communications with our workforce, streamline and standardize processes, reduce administration and human errors, and manage increasing workloads,” said Deborah Slayden, Director of HR Operations at VCU Health System.

This organization had invested in human resources technologies, such as a system for human capital management, but adoption of technology capabilities was often low, and manual processes remained especially cumbersome. The human resources team and their internal clients were growing frustrated with the unnecessary, tedious processes and what often seemed to be repetitive requests to respond to questions and complete tasks.

To improve their employees’ and managers’ experiences by providing easier access to accurate information in a more timely manner, maximizing support efficiency, and responding to a high volume of transactions without increasing human capital operating cost, VCU Health System turned to ScottMadden for assistance. Our consultants were desired to:

  • design and implement a new Human Resources Solution Center,
  • define where services would be delivered within human resources,
  • train the team on the new delivery model,
  • design and deploy supporting technologies,
  • support the organization-wide implementation,
  • support change management.

The Challenge Faced by Human Resources

To focus on the most pertinent talent acquisition, development, retention, administrative, and compliance challenges, the organization’s human resources required several things:

  • Streamlined processes to identify, interview, and onboard qualified candidates
  • Prioritized support for managers to develop and retain top talent through learning and development
  • Competitive benefit and compensation programs to fit evolving needs of both the employees and the growing organization

But that is not the full story.

Among their many tasks, human resources:

  • on-boards nearly 4,000 new hires each year, including 2,000 nurses;
  • manage and track annual medical licenses and certification renewals;
  • handles thousands of phone calls, website inquiries, emails, and in-person questions daily;
  • comply with unexpected annual and random audits.

And they strive to fill such tough positions as operating room clinical nurses, specialty nurse managers, surgical technicians, perfusionists, and cardiac sonographers—some of which typically take organizations months or years to acquire.

How We Helped

VCU Health System went live with its new Human Resources Solution Center, which included a physical service and contact center. Direct phone access to human resources representatives is now available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, whereas reaching the busy human resources team was previously not guaranteed.

The Solution Center features new customer care technology integrated with human capital management and telephony systems. The customer care technology is a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution, which includes a dynamic case management tool and a web-based user portal supported by a robust, searchable knowledge base that targets content to specific employee groups throughout the organization. The robust Healthcare Shares Services Solution Center is supported by:

  • Clearly defined HR services, roles, and responsibilities
  • More than 50 harmonized policies
  • Nearly 100 documented standard operating procedures
  • A tiered service delivery model
  • Extensive workflow definitions
  • Automated email system notifications
  • Almost 300 portal knowledge articles
  • 15 eForms
  • Integration of process activities across other departments, such as payroll

Our team of consultants who worked on this project involved more than 50 human resources team members and leaders throughout the organization to help determine which of more than 100 high-volume processes needed to be redesigned and documented. In addition, ScottMadden’s team of shared services healthcare experts developed training materials and instructed in excess of 500 people—including those internal to human resources, departmental managers, key staff members, and executive leadership—to enhance their understanding of VCU Health System’s business goals, promote organizational change and encourage business adoption of the new Human Resources Solution Center, and educate them on processes, tools, and technologies.

Our team of experts assigned to this project stayed on site for nearly two months following the center’s launch to:

  • ensure a seamless implementation;
  • provide post-go-live training to newcomers;
  • offer coaching and resolution as needed;
  • continue to manage key stakeholder reports.

A full-time dedicated ScottMadden resource remained at VCU Health System for another month to continue to guide efforts and manage the daily workflow cadence to ensure a seamless final transition.

Throughout the process, ScottMadden also worked closely with ServiceNow, the customer care technology solution. The activity included support to define the joint scope of services, but also coordinating with their team who configured the comprehensive case management system and end-user portal—to detail requirements for each process.

Collaboration was essential in project plans, testing, general intake request form development, and portal customization to suit the client’s user environment. During the implementation, ServiceNow also met integration requirements with the following third-party providers:

  • UltiPro to populate employee data;
  • Avaya for telephony incorporation;
  • Ping to simplify sign-on credentials from VCU Health System computers and mobile devices.

ScottMadden also established Key Performance Indicators and reports for the Human Resources Solution Center supervisors to track the number of incoming, resolved, and backlogged requests and adherence to service level indicators across various human resources services.


The Human Resources Solution Center provided impressive results for VCU Health System, automating procedures, ensuring process consistency and compliance with mandated policies, improving accessibility, and reducing response times.

“With this technology, HR has been able to re-organize how work gets done, thereby enhancing our professional value to the organization,” said Slayden. “The new technology provides transparency—team members can access information and track their inquiries when and how it’s most convenient. The technology also allows us to gather metrics to improve our service to team members constantly.”

During the first seven months of implementation, the Human Resources Solution Center addressed nearly 35,000 queries that would have previously been handled manually by various human resources representatives in the form of phone calls, web inquiries, email messages, paper forms, and in-person requests. The Solution Center is now handling approximately 100 daily calls, and knowledge base articles have received over 55,000 views.

 Detailed information about VCU Health System - ScottMadden Healthcare Shared Services Successful Case History.

The activity handled by the Human Resources Shared Services Solution Center is allowing the rest of the human resources organization to focus on their core, value-added roles. The HR field representatives can focus on the organization’s constant talent equation and assist and advise employees and managers. Members of the human resources centers of expertise, like benefits and compensation, have more time to invest in programs that address organizational and talent challenges. Human resources leaders noticed the benefits quickly and are continuing to look at ways to leverage this advanced Solution Center further.

“The results have exceeded our expectations,” said Maria Curran, Chief Human Resources Officer. “ScottMadden knows the industry and are experts at healthcare shared services. They went above and beyond the scope of work.”

“What an improvement! I was actually able to get in touch with a live human being who answered my questions. Not only that, but you also sent me a follow-up email. I am loving this HR4U (HR solution center). I cannot express how frustrated I have been in the past not being able to get anyone to answer the phone and having to trek up to HR Express from [offsite location].” – VCU Health Team Member

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