Pen Bay Healthcare Sees Dramatic Improvements in Performance Appraisal Process

When you think of the annual performance appraisal process, how does it make you feel? If your healthcare organization is still using a manual paper-and-pen-based system, you probably don’t feel confident that the process is working the way it should be. That’s because managing performance appraisals for hospitals is extremely challenging. And many HR teams can feel drained by the process. It requires constant follow-through, mountains of paperwork, and too often feels like a chore rather than an opportunity to move the organization forward.

Pen Bay Healthcare, a community healthcare system serving the 40,000 residents of Midcoast Maine, knew it was time to update their manual performance appraisal process. The healthcare system employs more than 1,700 professionals and support staff and includes Pen Bay Medical Center, Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, The Knox Center for Long-Term Care, Quarry Hill (a retirement community), and Pen Bay Physicians & Associates.

Impetus for Change

Erika Stone, Recruitment and Performance Manager Specialist for Pen Bay Healthcare, described the annual performance appraisal process as stressful and daunting. “We gave managers a due date but very few of them ever completed the appraisal on time or at all. In fact, on average only half of the appraisals were completed on time—a number that could seriously jeopardize their ability to maintain accurate employee records and stay compliant with The Joint Commission. They also had problems maintaining hundreds of job descriptions.

“They were out of date and rarely updated. And employees knew it”, said Stone. “It compromised the credibility of the process and had a direct impact on employee satisfaction.”

Implementation Process

Pen Bay Healthcare’s leadership team moved quickly to select a solution to automate their performance appraisal process. The organization was already using HealthcareSource Position Manager® with great success, and decided to implement the company’s Performance Manager® solution in time for their next performance appraisal rollout. “We knew that HealthcareSource had a good product and that their employees have experience working in healthcare HR”, said Stone.

That experience and support helped guide Pen Bay Healthcare through an aggressive implementation timeline. The organization needed to launch the new system in just over two months and there was a lot of ground to cover. The HealthcareSource implementation team knew exactly what needed to be accomplished to launch on time. “They created a spreadsheet with all of the necessary tasks along with completion dates”, said Stone. “We had no choice but to remain calm because they were so calm.”

Launch Exceeds Expectations

The HR team held their breath when it was time to conduct their performance appraisals using the new automated system. They had aggressive goals to accomplish including an 85 percent on-time appraisal completion rate. They expected to be bombarded with questions about how to use the system, but they never came. “The learning curve has been small because Performance Manager is so intuitive and easy to navigate”, said Stone.

The feedback from managers has been extremely positive. Now they have access to everything they need to process a performance appraisal, without having to request and track down information.

Employees have also noticed a change in the culture of the organization. They have more face-to face communication with their managers and love that they can login to the system anytime to see their job descriptions. “Employees are pointing out errors and omissions all the time. They want their job descriptions to be accurate and to reflect what they do everyday”, said Stone.

So how has HR changed since the new system launched last year? According to Stone, “Life is so much less stressful.” The amount of paperwork and filing dramatically decreased and there’s a sense of relief that employees records are up to date and compliant with The Joint Commission. “It felt great to not only meet our goal of an 85 percent appraisal completion rate, but to beat it”, said Stone. That’s because Pen Bay Healthcare’s completion rate came in at 86 percent.

When asked if she would recommend the software to other healthcare organizations that are still using manual systems, she responded without hesitation, “I think I speak for our whole team when I say I would absolutely recommend Performance Manager. We couldn’t imagine going back to the old way of doing things when we’ve seen such positive change.”

  • Manual paper-based performance appraisal process
  • Incomplete appraisals
  • Compliance with The Joint Commission
  • Hundreds of job descriptions
  • Positive feedback from managers
  • Access to everything needed to process appraisals
  • Exceeded goal of 85% on-time performance appraisals
  • Accurate job descriptions
  • Improved culture of organization
  • Employee records compliant with The Joint Commission


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