Maine Medical Center is the flagship hospital of MaineHealth, a 13-member health system touching central, southern, and western Maine and eastern New Hampshire. More than 16,000 employees are eligible for their tuition reimbursement program.
Being the flagship of the MaineHealth healthcare system, MMC was looking for ways to centralize
functions that were duplicated within each member of the system. One area that was ripe for
centralization was the tuition reimbursement process.
One of the problems was that the process was paper-based. Students submitted hard copies of their documentation and the progress of approval was tracked in a homegrown, outdated Access database. If a student didn't submit all the necessary documentation, they had to be notified by HR staff and the approval process was put on hold until the student submitted what was missing. The entire process was labor and time intensive for the HR staff.
Because of all the paper involved, particularly during the times of the year when courses were ending, the workload became overwhelming. "We conducted an employee engagement survey throughout the entire system," recalls HR Specialist Theresa Copeland. "One of the things that the survey revealed was that streamlining the tuition assistance process would make the HR team feel like their workload was more manageable."
The results of the survey made it clear that something needed to change.
MMC began conducting research to find a software solution. They even considered outsourcing the
tuition approval process. Ultimately, they selected HostedHR's TuitionManager- it
enables their Shared Services department to automate reimbursement workflows by electronically
routing applications and supporting documentation through a pre-defined approval chain.
TuitionManager eliminates the need for paper documentation and the use of a standalone database. And, because it is a web-based solution, employees and everyone involved in the approval process can access the system from any computer or mobile device.
"As a part of the selection process, we looked at what their clients said about the system. And, the reviews were really good. So, we launched TuitionManager at our largest member organization that employs roughly 7,000 people," explains Senior HR Specialist Sherri Shook. "After seeing it work, we moved forward with implementing it in each of the smaller member organizations."
HostedHR's TuitionManager platform has been well received because it has all of the features necessary to make the processing of tuition reimbursement applications faster and more efficient.
Because TuitionManager is cloud-based and easy to use, implementation was a smooth process.
HostedHR provided everything necessary for MMC to get up and running quickly.
"Implementation was super easy," says Theresa. "HostedHR was very accommodating. They gave us everything we needed, including suggested wording for our reimbursement policy. Also, they helped us customize the emails we required as well as the flow of the approval procedure. The entire process took a couple of weeks, but that was because we were being super cautious with our testing."
Implementing TuitionManager resulted in a drastic reduction in the amount of time it took to
completely process an application. Theresa and Sherri were both amazed.
"When we were first going through the approval process of the data system, we estimated that from start to finish, between the employees sending the applications to us having to review it on paper and then following back up with the employee to get more information and then approving it in the system, processing one application took about an hour," explains Theresa. "Today, the approval process takes minutes!"
Using TuitionManager, the HR department has greater insight into their data. "Before
TuitionManager, we really couldn’t pull any meaningful data from our Access database," shares
Theresa. "Now, we can easily see how many employees are using the program by member organization
and how much has been paid out in reimbursements."
When asked what she would say to other organizations considering TuitionManager as a solution, Sherri replied, "The ease of use of the system is extremely valuable. Now, employees are more likely to turn in all the information required for a quick approval. Also, we've been very pleased with the customer service we've received from HostedHR. They respond quickly to any questions or issues we may have. And that’s fabulous."