Tom Tan – Lexington Medical Center
Time was that employees at Lexington Medical Center had to navigate an inventory forest while trying to keep the health care network supplied. With 73,000 clinical and nonclinical items in the database, it could be impossible to tell what they really needed, how it was priced and who supplied it.
Director of IT Services Tom Tan says removing the unneeded inventory was essential to helping LMC operate more efficiently. So, working with materials management and other departments in the health care network, he began cutting and didn’t stop until he cleared more than half the forest.
It was an award-winning project, but the recognition mattered less to Tan than his approach.
“It’s how I’ve thrived in the role,” Tan says. “I put the business upfront and look to provide solutions with technology. My job is to basically find creative solutions to help the business run better.”
Taking on transformation
Headquartered in West Columbia, South Carolina, Lexington Medical Center is anchored by a 557-bed hospital and includes the largest extended care facility in the Carolinas. It has five community medical and urgent care centers, an occupational health center and a specialized care center for Alzheimer’s patients. LMC is staffed by more than 7,000 health care professionals, some of whom work in the network’s 70 doctor’s offices.
Tan joined LMC in September 2014, tasked with optimizing its human capital management, financial and supply chain systems. At the time, LMC was expanding its clinical technology, which included creating electronic health records, but its technology lagged in administrative areas.
For instance, nurse managers still administered pay differentials manually, and Tan and his staff wanted to streamline the process while accommodating changes, such as new incentive programs at LMC.
In 2016, they automated the pay differentials program using Oracle PeopleSoft applications. With additional programming, they incorporated rules and procedures that determined eligibility for incentives as well as other benefits. The result: $300,000 in savings in the first year of automation.
With that project complete, Tan next began modernizing LMC’s human capital management systems in 2018. One change to the system allowed employees and managers to enroll in benefits and to update personal information, such as addresses and phone numbers. Another change removed years of software customizations that were no longer needed and enabled LMC to keep up with Oracle PeopleSoft quarterly software releases, Tan says.
In addition to making hiring and retention easier, these and other changes prepared LMC to shift to nonprofit status in 2021, Tan says.
Tan also partnered with South Carolina-based Docu-graphics to streamline and standardize multifunction printers for the entire health care system. He says the replacement reduced costs and made it easier for staff to get support with printing and related functions.
Following the HR improvements, Tan focused on improving the application that manages LMC’s supply chain and enterprise resource planning system. As a first step, he and his team determined how many items, all the way down to tongue depressors or screws, the medical center used.
Working with staff from LMC’s materials management and clinical teams, Tan says he focused on items that hadn’t been ordered for three years or more—that was 38,000 of the 73,000 in the database. The collaboration improved accuracy in pricing, units of measure and vendors used, he adds.
Though the project was arduous, LMC’s supply chain management was recognized as one of the top 50 in the U.S. by Global Healthcare Exchange LLC in 2019 and 2020.
As Tan spoke with Toggle in February, he was beginning to implement LMC’s UKG Dimensions scheduling and timekeeping system. As he explains, the system, scheduled to go live this summer, eliminates spreadsheets in favor of automation. That makes it easier to assign nursing staff where they’re most needed, a necessity given the nationwide shortage of medical staff, Tan says.
Born in Malaysia, he came to the U.S. in 1990 to study electrical engineering at Mississippi State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree there, as well as his MBA and Master of Science in management information systems.
Tan’s first job out of college was with FedEx in 1996. There he helped the package delivery service implement its new payroll system to remediate Y2K bugs. Tan remained at FedEx as a senior technical analyst until January 2006, when he joined Hewitt Associates as a senior applications development lead-project manager. In 2009, he joined Edelman as a senior manager for application development.
He joined the health care field in 2012 as IT manager for administrative systems at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, leading development, deployment and support for more than 40 applications in HR, finance and supply chain areas.
Tan’s work drew the attention of recruiters, and in September 2014, Tan moved from Chicago to South Carolina to join LMC. With human capital the other upgrades in place, he’s now looking to address supply chain issues, particularly to ensure LMC has enough personal protective equipment.
“I really enjoy problem solving and building relationships with customers,” Tan says. “You can have the best IT solution but it’s useless if the business doesn’t see its value or doesn’t know how to use it.”
View this feature in the Spring II 2022 Edition here.
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