Avalon Healthcare operates long-term care, assisted living, and VA facilities in six states (Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii). Each state we operate in has different rules and regulatory requirements for healthcare providers. And our hours of operation are every single minute of every single day.
Providing quality, round-the-clock care to our residents is an extremely daunting task, even without a pandemic. Add in a pandemic, and it gets a lot harder.
We don’t know exactly when COVID-19 reached the U.S., but by February of 2020, it was obvious that we had a serious problem. And a very new one, with the best available information evolving constantly. The need for real-time communications with our more than 5,000 individual employees had never been greater. We needed to let them know when and where to get tested for the virus. We needed to provide the latest information about the virus, and updates when new information came to light. We needed to alert them when outbreaks in facilities occurred. And when vaccines became available, we needed to let them know how to get one.
We have employees in 35 departments ranging from Accounting to Compliance. From Benefits to Housecleaning. From Nursing to Dietary. From Marketing to Medical Records. From Clinical Services to Social Services. From Training to Procurement. From Senior Living to Central Supply to Government Relations. Each department has very specific functions and equally specific needs for relevant information targeted to the department and the various positions within it.
On March 31, 2020, our first communications went out. Unfortunately, with no intranet, employee engagement was limited. In fact, 33% of our employees were not receiving our communications at all because we didn’t have email addresses for them. The Community Broadcast tool helped us rapidly obtain and load email addresses and send targeted communications to the employees who most needed to receive them. Today, 94% of Avalon employees are receiving the information we send out.
We’ve sent nearly a thousand messages that reach the vast majority of our employees with information about a wide range of subjects. We can now instantly communicate state regulatory changes, and frequently asked questions (and answers) to keep them up to speed on the latest COVID knowledge. We can provide links to training opportunities. We can also provide rapid alerts about non-pandemic topics like updates to our own policies and procedures, notifications about changes to our benefits, open enrollment periods, distribution of employee handbooks, acknowledgement tracking and even lists of discounts and freebies they’re eligible to receive as health care workers.
Particularly impressive is the way UKG has enabled us to target our communications with surgical precision, with messages tailored to very specific audiences. We can sort communication recipients by state. By facility. By department. By status—full-time, part-time, or on-call, casual. We can even drill down to individual job titles. This is a game-changing benefit. We have used Community Broadcasts for open enrollment communication targeting different eligibility groups.
There have been some unexpected (but welcome) outcomes, too. For example, UKG products have helped us to increase our regulatory compliance. They’ve enabled us to efficiently schedule COVID testing clinics for employees, and vaccine clinics with time assignments. As an example, on March 10, Hawaii had the lowest percentage of its adult population eligible for vaccination, at about 26%. Due to our strategy using Community Broadcasting through UKG to educate on the efficacy and safety of vaccine, along with the scheduled vaccination clinics, our two facilities in Hawaii had an 80.1% and 75% vaccination completion for our staff, far exceeding national, state and industry levels. Our educational communications have helped us achieve employee retention rates that beat the industry averages, too. We believe that our success rate is directly related to our ability to communicate using UKG, keeping our employees and patients safe.
There’s no telling where Avalon would be without UKG. But we can say with confidence that it wouldn’t be a place as good as where we are today.