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Basic Human Resources Functions

Some benefits that technology brings to businesses are communication, cost effectiveness, bridging the cultural gap, and it is time efficient. Many businesses, including the University of Texas Medical Branch, would not be able to function properly without technology that facilitates human interactions as well. Hospitals and most businesses depend solely on technology to provide service to customers, members, accounts, and communicate properly amongst employees. In hospitals, employees communicate to one another using PDA systems, telephones, and handheld transceivers. Having these electronic devices allow hospitals to get task done in a timelier manner. In addition, HR executives are able to make human relations more effective and well thought in terms of business atmosphere.

“Technology eliminates the need for double or triple entry systems and reduces the need to file large amounts of paperwork. Now, contracts and customer information can be stored in virtual data warehouses and accessed in minutes, which cuts down on the need to purchase or rent storage space.” (Bryant, 2010). To solve the problem of losing important documents, including personal files of employees that should be checked from time to time, UTMB should enter patients’ and employees’ personal information in a virtual database. Not only would the clinic not have to worry about this situation taking place again, this method would be more time efficient opposed to looking through numerous files by hand which could take a long time.

Currently, UTMB implements and develops EMR provided by Epic Systems, a well-known provider of such solutions. At the beginning of cooperation, Epic Systems implemented information technologies into critical areas and departments, such as lab and radiology result display, documentation, CPOE, scheduling systems and pharmacy. Today, Epic and UTMB work on the project named Epic 10. It is an upgrade aimed to support the conversion to ICD-10 and prepare the information infrastructure of UTMB to comply with requirements needed to implement the UTMB Connect project (UTMB, 2011). EMR would help to control the situation with medical records of patients, while HR department would be able to maintain employees’ information using additional modules for this system.

The problem for HR department is to create such enterprise workforce architecture that could be effective as well as long lasting. It means that the appropriate enterprise architecture must be created that should include all necessary sections of it (information architecture, application architecture, business system architecture, and enterprise wide technical architecture) and it should be good for the next five-ten years (not one-two) in order to be comprehensive and effective (Fries, 2002). Therefore, when it comes to the creation of enterprise architecture that consider HR effectiveness as one of the major cornerstones, the problems come up. There are so many things to consider during the planning procedure that even the negotiation process regarding solving these problems can be rather difficult.

More to come, problems could occur during almost every step of ERP implementation. Here are the most common issues, according to Barton (2001): inherent complexity of ERP implementation; unrealistic expectations; outside consultant issues; over-customization of software ; inadequate training; using HR to solve the problem; process risk and process barriers; timeline flexibility; corporate culture; and infrastructure issues. Most of the issues speak for themselves. All these problems have to be solved by HR executives. Is it even possible to figure out how these issues should be solved? HR executives are only people and have their own issues.

Gurlen (2003) states the following causes related to personal features of an executive that could make any project become a mess at different stages: “(a) underestimating the complexity of a problem in unknown territory; (b) being a perfectionist; (c) consolidation of multiple projects; and (d) misunderstandings due to a scope that was not clearly defined.” As it can be seen, some HR executives add problems to a project by being too confident in their personal abilities and overestimating them. The author supports the statement regarding the creeping scope with the following statistics: In a Computerworld survey of 160 HR professionals, 80% reported requirements creep either “always” or “frequently”. The leading reason reported (by 44% of respondents) for why scope creeps so frequently was “poor initial requirements definition”. It is necessary to understand what solutions and approaches could be used in order to develop strong and effective strategy for effective strategic HR planning.

The development of information technologies has created great opportunities for data interexchange, transferring it into electronic field. Therefore, electronic data interexchange (EDI) became standard de facto for the modern world. According to PrivacyMedMiami (2005), “HIPAA is the federal law that establishes standards for the privacy and security of health information, as well as standards for electronic data interchange (EDI) of health information.” It was adopted in 1996, as the regulation act for this area.

The main goals of HIPAA are to make health insurance more portable in case a person changes an employer, and to make the health care system less expensive reducing wastes and fraud, for example. In addition, HIPPA stands for control of employees (HR functions): “HIPAA’s regulations prescribe the permitted uses and disclosures of individually identifiable health information by certain entities, including employers that have access to employee health information. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to keep confidential medical information in a file separate from all other employment or personnel files.” (HRhero, 2013). The core of HIPAA is the standardization. Thus, the following rules and standards are to be implemented: formats for electronic information exchanges (computer-to-computer); “identifiers” for providers of health care services, health plans, and patients; security standards for information systems; and, of course, privacy standards (CMS, 2011; PrivacyMedMiami, 2005).

An organization is a complex, interconnected, and interdependent system of business processes that must be profitable (except non-commercial ones). Healthcare facility is the same organization but with a different goal – to help people get healthy. Otherwise, the existence of any healthcare institution is meaningless, and its organizational structure was built inappropriately. In order to create an effective organization, it is necessary to consider the specifics of a healthcare organization and create the appropriate structure to make it efficient.

Organizational structure of this healthcare facility is as follows: chief medical officer is the head of the facility that runs the facility; chiefs of staff work in the appropriate departments as the deputies of chief medical officer in their fields; physicians and nurses are the subordinates (Organizational Politics, 2006). Thus, chief medical officer determines the strategic roles of personnel in order to assure effective functioning of the company. Chiefs of staff do the same in their departments, while physicians perform their duties “in field”. Nurses are the key figures in this structure. They support the process of medical care provision and basically, assure it (Office Politics Can Be Positive, 2004; Markus, 1983).

Organizational structure of any company must be effective. This company is no different. It is important for a healthcare facility to be as effective as possible (Organizational Politics, 2006). Therefore, it requires simple but effective organizational structure. As it can be noticed, current organizational structure lacks numerous positions between chief medical officer and nurses. It means that the “chain of commands” is rather short. This, in turn, makes daily operations simple and effective.

Such organizational structure eliminates the need in numerous intermediates. It makes the system rather effective and easy to manage. It influences the efficacy of daily operations directly (Organizational Politics, 2006). The less people are in control of nurses – the more effective these employees are. The situation in healthcare facility is similar to military: the more effective and direct orders are and the quicker their execution is the more efficient healthcare facility is (Office Politics Can Be Positive, 2004; Markus, 1983).

HR department influences the top company’s management in the process of providing units with the appropriately trained and experienced personnel. In some way, HR specialists are responsible for organizational structure of any company. In this case, HR department must be able to determine those people who are not just able to perform their direct duties but be leaders and compassionate individuals (Office Politics Can Be Positive, 2004; Markus, 1983). Healthcare area requires special people to work there and any HR department is the “filter” that allows to find such people. The most skilled and talented employees can become chiefs of departments. It is the objective of HR specialists to find such people. Therefore, it can be said that HR department directly affects the organizational structure and functioning of the company (Organizational Politics, 2006).

An HR department in any company plays a supportive role. This is the main source of the major asset of any company – people (Office Politics Can Be Positive, 2004; Markus, 1983). Therefore, it defines a company’s effectiveness. A good HR manager is supposed to be able to find the appropriate personnel, good for the job and determine the most talented and responsible people to hire.

Therefore, healthcare managers, executives are able to contribute significantly to the process of health services’ improvement. Contemporary healthcare systems require specialists in such settings as “Clinics, Consulting firms, Health insurance organizations, Healthcare associations, Hospitals, Nursing homes, Physician practices, Mental health organizations, Public health departments, Rehabilitation centers, Skilled nursing facilities, Universities and research institutions”(American College of Healthcare Executives, 2012).

The main idea, the core of the all-possible solutions in the area of nursing leadership is the understanding of true leadership within any team. All parties should realize the boundaries of informal and formal power. Without leadership traits any executive is doomed to be ineffective and not at place. As Holmes (2005) states, there are four principles of managing expectations: Define Expectations Internally; Establish Rules of Engagement; Deal with Doubters; and Not Everything Is Negotiable. Deep understanding of these principles should provide a nurse leader with clear vision of what should be done in every particular case.

Thus, according to the first principle (and the success factor), everyone should clearly understand what is expected to be done. It concerns both executives and executors of each process in a healthcare facility. Without it, people could fall into a trap of misunderstanding and would be misled by it. In the worst-case scenario, the processes could be compromised and fail completely. The second success factor is about stating the expectations that should be realistic and realizable. It is not possible to satisfy all possible needs and requirements to a project. Therefore, it is necessary to distill what exactly should be done to satisfy the most of the requirements and execute it (Holmes, 2005).

Third success factor is based on good negotiation skills. In other words, it is important to be able to find the appropriate approach to every situation and person(s) involved into it. Good negotiation skills, combined with pragmatism and goodwill should provide a nurse leader with all necessary tools for solving different problems, related to uncertainties in a day-to-day work (Holmes, 2005). Finally, it is very important to understand that not every problem has an appropriate solution for every part of the negotiations. In some cases, it is just not possible. Therefore, a good nurse leader must be ready for such situations (Holmes, 2005). The appropriate exploitation of these approaches would be effective in HR management of healthcare organizations. These tools are necessary to be used extensively.

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