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Monday, October 5, 2015

As associate dean for finance and facilities at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, Scott Arneson is responsible for the business and financial administration of his college.

Weston Marling, with Financial Shared Services, processes an order for Dental Assistant Lisa Harless. Photo by Sean Kelley.

And, when the college was faced with four early-retirement requests among its administrative support staff earlier this year, Arneson decided it was the ideal time for the College of Dentistry to volunteer as a beta site for the University Shared Services organization.

To reduce overall administrative costs and minimize redundancies and errors across campus, UI finance leaders proposed a project to implement a University Shared Services Model. The project, OneFinance@Iowa, aims to utilize and leverage current technology and best practices by engaging highly trained staff to provide exceptional, streamlined financial services and improve quality across campus.

"Weston has taken on more of the direct ordering, which allows me to spend more time in the clinic with patients."

—Lisa Harless, College of Dentistry

As part of the beta site, University Shared Services reassigned Weston Marling, from Central Accounts Payable, to the College of Dentistry, where he’s handled travel, purchasing, and accounts-payable transactions for the EndodonticsOperative DentistryOral Pathology; Radiology and Medicine; and Preventive and Community Dentistry departments full time since June 15.

“In essence, we are being provided every service we were getting before with one less full-time equivalent employee because of Weston’s experience,” Arneson says. “More efficiency is gained by Weston working on a specific set of transactions and tasks, where before, we had employees with wider job responsibilities constantly switching from one unrelated task to another.”

The new model of providing services has sped up the ordering and delivery process, while also helping the College of Dentistry save money.

“Through his understanding of contracts and more-specialized procurement training, Weston has found ways for us to utilize university contracting to get better pricing on some of our supply items,” Arneson added.

Perhaps most importantly, the shift in workflow has moved ordering responsibilities away from dentistry staff who were hired to focus on patient care.

“Weston has taken on more of the direct ordering, which allows me to spend more time in the clinic with patients,” says Lisa Harless, a dental assistant in the UI College of Dentistry’s endodontics department.

Arneson estimates the Financial Shared Services Model will save the College of Dentistry $50,000 annually.

“The College of Dentistry is a great partner, embracing change and helping the project team gain valuable experience which, in turn, enables the successful implementation of Shared Services across campus,” says Debby Zumbach, project leader for University Shared Services and interim assistant vice president for Business Services.

In addition to the savings achieved by the UI College of Dentistry, UI Accounts Payable and Travel also estimates savings of $50,000 annually, due to the improved accuracy of travel-expense reimbursements and procurement-card reconciliations.

Read about more TIER success stories.

UI Health Care is fully committed to the TIER philosophy of continuously identifying and implementing operational efficiencies, especially those that improve quality of care and patient safety. UI Health Care has been actively engaged in ongoing improvements in its operational and financial performance for more than eight years.