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Boston Medical Center: Going Paperless BMC logo

Case Study Boston Medical Center (BMC)
Challenge BMC had two main challenges.
  1. Management was requesting hard data and metrics to quantify the good work done by their volunteers.
  2. Growing amounts of paperwork was time-consuming to process manually.
Solution VSys One, VSys Live, Online Training Module, Schedule Lookup Tool, and Live Kiosk - all hosted by VSys One.
Who Boston Medical Center is a large healthcare system with over 7,000 employees and approximately 900 volunteers. Volunteers are active in numerous programs ranging from food pantry (e.g. delivering food to cancer patients or stocking shelves), serving as a BMC Ambassador, participating in fundraising efforts (e.g. running the Boston Marathon), and a "cuddler" program for substance abuse babies.

BMC purchased five products: VSys One (volunteer management and administration), VSys Live (portal for volunteers), Online Training Module, Schedule Lookup Tool, and VSys Live Kiosk in late 2019. Implementation began in early 2020 and is ongoing. BMC staff continues to work with VSys staff to customize VSys Live to meet their specific requirements.

BMC opted for a VSys-hosted system to reduce workload on their IT staff. All upgrades are done automatically by VSys and the system is hosted in a secure datacenter that meets government requirements for healthcare organizations. This solution allowed BMC's volunteer team to function virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic as their solution was "in the cloud".


Moving to a Digital Solution

Like many volunteer offices, BMC was finding the processes for compliance a challenge in the office and for their prospective volunteers. Heath clearances had been a sticking point in the past with too many steps and too many places requiring human interaction. Working with the VSys implementation team, the BMC team broke down the health clearance into seven steps which are now each tracked. BMC can now communicate to volunteers where they are in the process and monitor next steps.

Other forms were moved to the VSys Live volunteer portal for prospects to sign. Instead of a paper photo consent form, the VSys team put the form in VSys with an accept or decline function. Now not only has the paper been reduced, a coordinator can easily report if a volunteer gave permission to use photos taken on campus.

Finally, BMC made a decision to use notifications instead of emails for routing information in order to eliminate email fatigue. While not exactly "paper", notifications allow their volunteer managers to stay in one system and have the information "pushed" to them instead of running reports or moving back and forth in multiple systems. For example, mangers see who missed volunteer assignments via their dashboard. This has proven especially important in the COVID-19 environment with contact tracing often necessary.

Having one link for volunteers to access all of their information is such a time saver and a relief to us, and the volunteers. We tell them "Go to this site and you'll see everything you need. Macy Reed, Director of Volunteer Services

Getting the Numbers for Management

A key requirement for BMC was the ability to track what volunteers do quantitatively. BMC's leadership was adopting data-driven decision making and the Senior Vice President of Human Resources, who oversaw volunteer efforts, needed hard data to showcase the impact of volunteers on the organization. This dovetailed with Service Enterprise certification requirements for showing a Return on Investment (ROI) for volunteer efforts.

This was done by clearly defining job associations and roles. Each job description was reviewed for accuracy before getting added to VSys, and as part of this process a dollar value was assigned to jobs so that ROI information can be provided to management.

The dollar amount for jobs ranged from $15 (which is BMC's minimum wage) to $20. A $15 an hour position requires no experience, special skills, or education. A $20 an hour job requires special skills, more training, education, a regular time commitment, etc. For example, a Geriatric Telehealth Job requires making a six month commitment and the ability to:

  • Speak a second language,
  • Converse with strangers,
  • Do data entry on an Excel spreadsheet, and
  • Completing the necessary training and onboarding process.

The time BMC invested in setting job definitions will enable them to easily post open opportunities for volunteers, clearly describing what the opportunity entails, whether remote or not remote.

It's been a dream to move everything to remote. In the past, in-person orientations were once a week for 1.5 hours. For first 45 minutes volunteers filled out five forms for HR, IT, Communication and the volunteer office. One of the main bonuses of VSys Live is to have all of these forms accessible online through the Live portal. The volunteers downloads the forms and fill them out. This saved us so much time and paperwork while allowing volunteer orientation to focus on the impact volunteers will make. Macy Reed, Director of Volunteer Services

And then a Pandemic

While their goals might have been clear going into this project, this implementation occurred in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic. The volunteer program needed to quickly revamp so that volunteers could stay safe while still assisting where most needed. And a need for paperless and electronic accelerated.

BMC begin tailoring the system to handle their remote onboarding needs so that remote volunteers could engage. Every step of the volunteer onboarding process was evaluated to determine what would be the most efficient. Online onboarding was set up to include clearance checks for COVID-19, proof of flu shots, signed HIPPA and other compliance forms, completion of training (e.g. New Volunteer Workday Training, Placement Training), and a passing grade on the Volunteer Handbook quiz.

In VSys Live a "send a message to your supervisor" button was setup to make it easier for volunteers to reach out to supervisors. Not only did this reduce the number of emails, it provided information in one easy to find spot.

Check-in and -out was launched within two weeks of the start date as BMC was bringing back remote volunteers. New applicants were put on hold with only preselected volunteers moving through onboarding. BMC had ten volunteers onsite and approximately 25 remote volunteers in November 2020. The onsite volunteers were in fundraising and office roles, not in-patient areas. The check-in and -out feature, unlike entering hours, allows volunteer services to require one process for all volunteers to log hours, regardless of it they are remote or on-site.

It has been a saving grace during all these uncertainties that we have a system that will be growing and changing with the times. Macy Reed, Director of Volunteer Services

Project complete

The full VSys implementation was complete by October 2020. BMC continues to tweak and expand the solution. For example, new job descriptions are added as volunteers slowly return to the organization. The Online Training Module will be included in a future phase. This implementation was delayed due to COVID and changing hospital training requirements. The VSys team considers this one of our most successful implementations, recognizing that much of the credit for this belongs to the BMC team. The BMC team had carefully thought out their onboarding process and how they wanted the system configured. BMC's initiative in learning the VSys solution has empowered their ability to maximize the solution.