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PHNS Improves Customer Service with Plumtree-Powered Dashboards That Monitor Coding, Transcription and IT

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Ryan Kneipper, marketing manager for PHNS.

BACKGROUND: PHNS provides information technology, health information management, coding, transcription and receivables management services to approximately 160 hospitals.

PLATFORMS: PHNS is running the Plumtree application across nine Dell 2650 servers running Windows 2000 operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our 1,300 PHNS employees work in 16 states at hospitals, clinics and home offices - less than four percent are at the corporate offices. We've also expanded rapidly through several acquisitions. Because we acquired three companies last year alone, we had lots of diverse IT infrastructure and a need to get new employees knowledgeable and productive right away. We needed a way to centralize and improve communication across the enterprise, integrate information from diverse systems, and monitor key business metrics such as medical record coding, transcriptions and network uptime.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Our portal,, provides employees with access to a variety of dashboards to monitor business metrics and make faster, better-informed decisions. The portal provides a record-coding dashboard, which monitors the efficiency of the medical records coding process by displaying metrics organized by hospital, chart and code; a transcription dashboard, which surfaces transcription metrics organized by areas of healthcare, work types, documents, costs and reports; and an IT dashboard, which monitors system and network uptime, delivering hourly e-mails to employees about network status. has also integrated many back-end and legacy systems into new portal-based applications. The customer project support application helps employees collaborate with customers on projects and share key documents via Plumtree Collaboration Server including project plans, electronic medical records and user manuals. The vendor contract management application manages all customer contracts as well as the security for accessing these contracts. The employee support application provides all human resources information and tools such as benefits, announcements and employee surveys. The IT security application allows employees from different data centers to collaborate on network security issues and offers access to threaded discussions, bulletin boards, news alerts and security policies.

STRENGTHS: Plumtree's product strategy of Radical Openness helps us avoid being locked into a single vendor's application server, and helps ensure that we can integrate information from a wide range of systems as we go through acquisitions. Rather than replacing the systems of every acquired company, we're able to incorporate the important elements into We can use the Plumtree framework for building a wide range of dashboards and applications and can reuse development components across our portal applications, empowering us to meet our aggressive deployment timeline.

WEAKNESSES: Plumtree's suite needs a more robust document workflow capability than is currently offered. We also felt that the documentation for installation and administration support needs improvement.

SELECTION CRITERIA: PHNS considered Microsoft SharePoint and Brio in addition to Plumtree. PHNS used the following selection criteria: maturity of vendor's product, feature/function list, price, size of customer base and largest customers.

DELIVERABLES: We've been able to improve employee communications, enhance executive decision making and improve service for client hospitals. We've also invested in a framework that we can use again and again for new customized application initiatives. With dashboards that provide employees real-time metrics about the services we provide to our clients, we've gained valuable insights that have enhanced the quality of our services, particularly our coding and transcription services. In future phases of deployment, we plan to deliver a help desk reporting system to customers as well as Web-enable IT-related service processes such as pharmacy label printing. Lastly, we've also been able to influence new sales by demonstrating the portal to our prospects during sales cycles.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The support of our sales and technical support team has been very good. The initial support from the Plumtree customer support line was poor. They were not trained or capable of supporting release 5.x. Plumtree has said they're investing in this due to customer feedback - hopefully it will show marked improvement soon.

DOCUMENTATION: On a scale of 1 to 10, the documentation is approximately a 6. The product cannot be run by using just the documentation. Again, Plumtree says they've dedicated more resources to improving this, and we hope it gets better soon.

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