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article imageInterview: time-tracking software saves healthcare time Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 26, 2017 in Business
Boomr builds innovative time-tracking software to save businesses time and money. The company has recently expanded out into healthcare. To find out how time-trackers work, we spoke with company co-founder Matt Bowersox.
Boomr is a company based the San Diego, U.S. The company specializes in time-tracking software, designed to save businesses time and money. The company has announced Boomr for Healthcare, marketed as an “essential add-on to its mobile time-tracking platform”.
The new platform has been created for private duty home care companies and Medicare-certified home health or hospice agencies. The focus is with overcoming the challenges encountered when tracking the hours of distributed staff members.
To understand more about time-tracking software in general and the healthcare application specifically, Digital Journal spoke with Boomr co-founder Matt Bowersox.
Digital Journal: Thanks for the interview. What are the main challenges facing businesses manage staff?
Matt Bowersox: The main challenges our customers have is managing their labor costs and overtime proactively and keeping their employee timesheets accurate. When we talk about proactively managing costs, many companies, especially those that have hourly workers, do not know how much payroll is going to cost until the day payroll is processed. Traditionally, this is because their employees use manual time cards or they have a system that doesn’t aggregate work hours on an ongoing basis. This challenge is especially common among small and mid-sized businesses who tend to manage employee time retroactively by adding up timesheets when payroll is due.
Related to this is the idea that overtime can quickly eat into businesses profitability, particularly in states like California where doubletime is paid. If you consider the net margins of most service businesses, there is not much room for non-regular hours to be paid at the costly overtime multiple. With Boomr’s Overtime Watch tool, all hours are calculated down to the minute in real-time, and our customers are notified when an employee is approaching the daily or weekly overtime threshold.
Lastly, with regard to timesheet accuracy, because employees track time from their smartphone or tablet and that data is presented in real-time to all managers and administrators there is no concept of rounding hours up or down or employees entering timesheet data incorrectly. There’s a sense of accountability that comes along with our system because all activity (meaning changes to a timesheet) is tracked with our Shift Audit feature. This means everyone knows when a shift was submitted, what changes were made to that shift (either during or after it was submitted) and who in the organization made the changes.
Nurses walk in a corridor on September 20  2013 at Lens' hospital
Nurses walk in a corridor on September 20, 2013 at Lens' hospital
Philippe Huguen, AFP/File
DJ: What are the main applications of Boomr?
Bowersox: Generally, employees use our free mobile app (available on iOS and Android) to track the time they spend at work directly from their smartphone or tablet. All shifts are geolocated, meaning a company can decide whether or not an employee has to physically be at a work location or office in order to check in for the shift. Employees can take breaks, track project time, manage expenses and even log shift notes or upload photos, directly from the app. All this data is attached to the shift and available for review before the shift is approved and sent to payroll. Employees can also track time from a web browser, allowing for flexibility, though it is most common for employees to use the mobile app.
Our management dashboard is a web-based product where all shift data from the app is displayed in real-time. We have a unique proprietary API that connects the apps to the web product. In the dashboard, managers and administrators can see who’s working and where they are working. They can also review, edit and approve shifts as well as run payroll and billing reports. Lastly, Boomr has seamless integrations with a variety of leading payroll, accounting and HR products, such as Gusto, QuickBooks Online, Xero, BambooHR, Namely and FreshBooks, meaning all hours tracked in Boomr can be synced to these systems with the click of a button.
DJ: How has the software helped different businesses?
Bowersox: Boomr has thousands of customers globally from a dozens of different industries. We have found that services businesses that have employees who are distributed or out in the field, rather than at a single office location, benefit the most from our solution. Because we keep all labor data centralized in one place regardless of where employees are working, companies that dispatch employees to multiple work locations throughout a given day or week have a lot to gain by utilizing our system.
Something else that our customers have reported, is that the mobile app is very intuitive and doesn’t require training. This has helped businesses to invite and onboard their employees with a very limited amount of effort and in turn they can have the software fully implemented in hours instead of weeks. Our one-click onboarding tool allows employees to download the app and join their employer’s account in the matter of minutes. And because the solution was built to be employee-friendly, employee’s feel like it compliments their work flow instead of being just another distraction from the job at hand. Boomr runs in the background and has many automated alerts and reminders built in, which means employees don’t have to think about it, instead it “just works” and at any given time they can see what their anticipating earnings are for any given day or pay period.
DJ: Why did you decide a different variant of the software was needed for healthcare?
Bowersox: The healthcare industry is largely underserved when it comes to new technologies. We had many of our current customers who are from the healthcare sector who told us that their other systems, be it an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or HR system, represented that they could do time tracking and yet the reality was that those features were often secondary to other core features and therefore the user experience and overall product quality fell very short, usually creating more work for clinicians who in turn disliked it and didn’t allow for user adoption. When we saw the data about how many of our customers were in the healthcare industry and we started talking to these customers, it became clear that a standalone mobile time tracking solution was the only option they could depend on. There also was a trend in their feedback of product changes that could be made to better adapt the core Boomr product to meet the unique needs of healthcare companies.
Most of this feedback was around pay types that are more prominent in the healthcare industry, such as pay per visit (piece rate) and per diem pay. That was the first feature we built for these customers, and as we continued to gather feedback we found additional opportunities such as expense and mileage tracking, HIPAA compliant ePHI masking and others.
Ultimately, when we discovered just how underserved these customers were when it came to managing employee labor costs we knew we had to build a solution. After validating the market opportunity, and learning how many healthcare services companies there are in industries like home health, hospice and home care, we knew there was a big opportunity.
Lastly, I and one of our seed investor’s Jason Bliss both have owned and operated large home health and hospice companies prior to founding Boomr. This gave us the domain knowledge that was a prerequisite to having an informed conversation about these challenges with our healthcare customers. It helped our leadership team “speak their language” to really understand the scope of their pain points and, ultimately, to build a solution to ease the burdens they were facing.
Iraqi nurses administer polio vaccinations on October 4  2011 to children in Baghdad
Iraqi nurses administer polio vaccinations on October 4, 2011 to children in Baghdad
Sabah Arar, AFP/File
DJ: How does Boomr for healthcare differ from other types of organizational software?
Bowersox: Boomr for Healthcare is unique in that it takes traditional time tracking software, which is designed and built for hourly employees, and adapts it to effectively track time for pay per visit or per diem staff who may be paid a different rate of pay depending on the type of work they are doing. In many healthcare businesses, clinicians are paid not just a different rate, but sometimes a hybrid of a fixed amount of pay for a certain type of work and an hourly rate of pay for another type of work. For example, a home health agency can have up to 12 different visit types per employee, some paid a fixed amount and others calculated hourly, with each employee being paid their own unique rates. You can imagine the challenge of trying to organize that much information on a traditional timesheet or even an hourly time tracking system – it’s not possible.
Boomr for Healthcare also stands apart from other time tracking solutions because we have incorporated healthcare specific terminology into the product. For example, instead of a “work location” Boomr for Healthcare will refer to this as a “patient”. For home health agencies, we’ll refer to a “job code” as a “visit code” – it’s seemingly minor details like this that enhance the overall user experience for clinicians and give them confidence in the product. And we’ve found, the happier employees are with the software the happier their managers and the company leadership team are.
Boomr Healthcare app in action.
Boomr Healthcare app in action.
Boomr
DJ: What were the main challenges in development?
Bowersox: There’s a lot of moving parts to a solution like Boomr for Healthcare, especially when there is no room for error when calculating hours worked data. It was essential for us to develop automated tests for all of the code that we wrote to ensure that the logic was accurate regardless of the customer use case. Another challenge was designing the new features in manner that was customizable, as every customer has their own unique requirements, and at the same time not cumbersome to configure. A huge advantage that a system like Boomr has over traditional time clocks and offerings from the large payroll companies is simplicity. We had to strike the right balance of ease-of-use and customizable functionality, which in the end we believe we were able to do.
DJ: How did you address data security concerns?
Bowersox: When it comes to security concerns in the healthcare industry you have to consider HIPAA. We worked closely with the healthcare customers who Beta tested Boomr for Healthcare to mask key information that would put a company at risk if the system was ever breached. Protect health information is serious stuff, so we spent a lot of time focusing on our role-based permissions and handled most of the compliance from a product design standpoint.
DJ: What has the take up been like?
Bowersox: Since we’ve come out of Beta in mid-October, we’ve seen a lot of interest from across the industry. Of course there are healthcare services companies like home health and hospice agencies that are finding our system, either by word of mouth or through our integration partners, who are very excited about the Boomr for Healthcare add-on. But there are also other stakeholders surfacing which we have found really interesting such as other software providers in the healthcare space who are interested in partnerships and integrations, PEO’s that work with healthcare companies and others.
DJ: What types of healthcare institutions are using the new Boomr?
Bowersox: We are fortunate to have a large multi-state home health and hospice company with 1600+ employees that participated very actively in our Beta test, so we are actively leveraging that relationship into case studies and additional business opportunities.
Generally, we see a strong interest from healthcare businesses who service patients in a home setting. We see the growth potential here as the Baby Boomers continue to age and there’s a increased demand for home-based healthcare services. We want to equip those companies with Boomr for Healthcare so their employees can provide timely and transparent care.
DJ: Healthcare has many different roles and working patterns. How does Boomr work with this complexity?
Bowersox: We’ve always accommodated complex use cases with a commitment to simple design patterns and a linear work flow in the product. We try to avoid having a layered product hierarchy that requires a ton of configuration rules and when we add new features we bake them into the overall experience. Instead of having Boomr do 10 things decently, we want it to do one thing – track employee time – incredibly well. That has helped us stay focused when considering which features to prioritize and was essential in the development of Boomr for Healthcare.
DJ: What else are you working in?
Bowersox: Aside from a long list of exciting new features, we are constantly working on new partnership opportunities with other software providers. We’ve also recently launched Boomr for Developers, which allows other developers to harness the power of real-time, mobile time tracking into their own products using our Web API and Time Tracking SDK. We’re very excited about this and the interest has exceeded our expectations.
DJ: What other types of technology interest you?
Bowersox: Our team has always been very interested in two aspects of software 1) automation and 2) data. We believe that the best SaaS solutions automate processes that traditionally are very time consuming or laborious. In the case of time tracking, especially with mobile time tracking, the possibilities are endless. We plan to fully automate the process of recording time so that the process is effortless and the end result is error-free. Especially when a company has a high proportion of hourly workers, we think an automated time tracking solution can be like oil lubricating the gears of machine, allowing the entire enterprise to run smoother.
With regard to data, there is so much that businesses, even very small businesses can do with the right data. For awhile, there’s been a lot of focus on sales data, implementing a CRM to close more deals. While that’s important, we believe it’s just as important to control your costs and labor costs are the largest line item expense for any service business. With the right data, available on-demand and in real-time, it’s amazing how more efficient a business can run both operationally and financially. Boomr is incredibly focused on surfacing data points (for example the Overtime Watch tool) that can save businesses money and help them make better informed decisions. We like to use the example of Google Analytics, and the tremendous insights tools like that offer about your web traffic. Boomr will provide that same level of detail but for your physical work force, giving you the data you need when you need it to run your company better.
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